Factsheet

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Cancer causes 20% of deaths in Europe each year. With more than 3 million new cases and 1.7 million deaths annually, cancer is the most significant cause of death and morbidity in Europe after cardiovascular diseases1.

The estimated incidence for the most common cancers in the European Union in 20122:

ISICS cancer topic graphics V511

Around one third of cancer deaths are due to five key behavioural and dietary risks: high body mass index; low fruit and vegetable intake; lack of physical activity; tobacco use; and alcohol use3.

Coffee consumption and cancer risk

Current scientific evidence suggests that moderate coffee consumption of 3-5 cups per day is not associated with an increased risk of cancer at the majority of body sites4,5,6,7 or an increased risk of dying from cancer8-10.

In June 2016, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) published an updated review of the scientific evidence on coffee and cancer, which found no conclusive evidence for a carcinogenic effect of coffee. IARC downgraded the classification of coffee to Group 3 for agents “not classifiable as to carcinogenicity to humans”7. This means that the extensive scientific literature does not show an association between coffee consumption and cancer.

In its Scientific Opinion on the Safety of Caffeine, published in 2015, The European Food Safety Authority concluded that: ‘caffeine intakes from all sources up to 400 mg per day (about 5.7 mg/kg bw per day for a 70 kg adult) consumed throughout the day do not give rise to safety concerns for healthy adults in the general population. No health concerns in relation to acute toxicity, bone status, cardiovascular health, cancer risk or male fertility have been raised by other bodies in previous assessments for this level of habitual caffeine consumption and no new data have become available on these or other clinical outcomes which could justify modifying these conclusions11.

Studies have shown that there is no evidence for a link between coffee consumption and cancer of the oesophagus12, pancreas13, kidney14,15, prostate16,17, skin18,19 ovary20,21, stomach22-26, breast33-35 , oral cavity/pharynx36, brain38,  colon and rectum39,40 or lung41,42.  Research also suggests that coffee consumption is associated with a reduced risk of both liver43-46 and endometrial47-50 cancers.

In 1991, IARC classified coffee as “possibly carcinogenic to the human urinary bladder” (Group 2B). This conclusion was reached after reviewing the limited evidence available at that time. However, after reviewing new, high quality studies51-54, IARC concluded in 2016 that there is inadequate evidence of an association between coffee consumption and increased occurrence of bladder cancer7.

Influence of the temperature of hot beverages

In 2016, IARC classified beverages consumed at very high temperatures (defined as over 65°C) in Group 2A: “probably carcinogenic to the human oesophagus”7. 65°C is significantly hotter than the temperature at which most people can comfortably drink coffee without scalding their mouth and tongue55-56; coffee is typically drunk at temperatures below 60°C.

When IARC assessed evidence for a link between oesophageal cancer and coffee specifically, it found insufficient evidence of an association.

 References

1WHO Europe, ‘Cancer’. Available at: http://www.euro.who.int/en/what-we-do/health-topics/noncommunicable-diseases/cancer
2IARC, ‘Estimated Incidence of Cancers of both sexes in the European Union’. Available at http://eco.iarc.fr/EUCAN/Country.aspx?ISOCountryCd=930
3WHO Europe, ‘Fact Sheet on Cancer No. 297, February 2015’. Available at: www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs297/en/
4Yu X. et al. (2011) Coffee consumption and risk of cancers: a meta-analysis of cohort studies. BMC Cancer, 11:96.
5Wierzejska R. (2015) Coffee consumption vs cancer risk – A review of scientific data. Rocz Pantsw Zakl Hig, 66(4):293-298.
6Tamakoshi A. et al. (2011) Effect of coffee consumption on all-cause and total cancer mortality: findings from the JACC study. Eur J Epidemiol, 26(4):285-293.
7Loomis D. et al. (2016) Carcinogenicity of drinking coffee, mate, and very hot beverages. The Lancet Oncology, 17(7):877-878
8Malerba S. et al. (2013) A meta-analysis of prospective studies of coffee consumption and mortality for all causes, cancers and cardiovascular disease. Eur J Epidemiol, 28(7):522-539.
9Je Y. and Giovannucci E. (2013) Coffee consumption and total mortality: a meta-analysis of twenty prospective cohort studies. Brit J Nutr, 111(7):1162-1173.
10Crippa A. et al. (2014) Coffee consumption and mortality from all causes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer: A dose-response meta-analysis. Am J Epidemiol, 180(8):763-775.
11EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition, and Allergies (NDA) (2015) Scientific Opinion on the safety of caffeine. EFSA Journal, 13(5):4102.
12Zheng J.-S. et al. (2013) Effects of Green Tea, Black Tea, and Coffee Consumption on the Risk of Esophageal Cancer: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Observational Studies. Nutr Cancer, 65(1):1-16.
13Dong J. et al. (2011) Coffee drinking and pancreatic cancer risk: a meta-analysis, World Journal of Gastroenterology, 17(9):1204-10.
14Montella M. et al. (2009) Coffee, decaffeinated coffee, tea intake and risk of renal cell cancer. Nutr Cancer, 61:76-80.
15Huang T. B. et al. (2014) Coffee consumption and urologic cancer risk: a meta-analysis of cohort studies. Int Urol Nephrol, 46(8):1481-93.
16Park C. H. et al. (2010) Coffee consumption and the risk of prostate cancer: a meta-analysis of epidemiological studies. BJU Int, 106:762-9.
17Liu H. et al. (2015) Coffee Consumption and Prostate Cancer Risk: A Meta-analysis of Cohort Studies. Nutr Cancer, 67(3):392-400.
18Heffernan T. P. et al. (2009) ATR-Chk1 pathway inhibition promotes apoptosis after UV treatment in primary human keratinocytes: potential basis for the UV protective effects of caffeine. J Invest Dermatol, 129:1805-15.
19Weng Yew Y. et al. (2015) Coffee Consumption and Melanoma: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Observational Studies. Am J Clin Dermatol, 17:113-123.
20Steevens J. et al. (2007) Tea and coffee drinking and ovarian cancer risk: results from the Netherlands Cohort Study and a meta-analysis. Br J Cancer, 97:1291–4.
21Braem M.G.M. et al. (2012) Coffee and tea consumption and the risk of ovarian cancer: a prospective study and updated meta-analysis. Am J Clin Nutr, 95(5):1172-8.
22Botelho F. et al. (2006) Coffee and gastric cancer: systematic review and meta-analysis. Cad Saude Publica, 22:889–900.
23Li L. et al. (2015) Coffee consumption and the risk of gastric cancer: a meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. BMC Cancer, 15:733.
24Liu H. et al. (2015) Effect of Coffee Consumption on the Risk of Gastric Cancer: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Prospective Cohort Studies. PLoS One, 10(5):e0128501.
25Shen Z. et al. (2015) Coffee consumption and risk of gastric cancer: an updated meta-analysis. Clinics and Research in Hepatology and Gastroenterology, 39(2):245-53.
26Deng W. et al. (2015) Coffee consumption and risk of incident gastric cancer: a meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. Nutr Cancer, 68(1):40-47.
27Bravi F. et al. (2009) Coffee drinking and endometrial cancer risk: a meta-analysis of observational studies. Am J Obstet Gynecol, 200:130-5.
28Bandera E. V. et al (2010) Coffee and tea consumption and endometrial cancer risk in a population-based study in New Jersey. Cancer Causes Control, 21:1467-73.
29Je Y. & Giovannucci E. (2012) Coffee drinking and risk of endometrial cancer: findings from a large up-to-date meta-analysis. Int J Cancer, 131(7):1700-10.
30Zhou O. et al. (2015) Coffee consumption and risk of endometrial cancer: a dose-response meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. Sci Reports, 5:13410.
31Yang T. O. et al. (2015) Tea and coffee and risk of endometrial cancer: cohort study and meta-analysis. Am J Clin Nutr, 101(3):570-8.
32Arab L. (2010) Epidemiologic evidence on coffee and cancer. Nutr Cancer, 62:271-83.
33Fagherazzi G. et al. (2011) No association between coffee, tea or caffeine consumption and breast cancer risk in a prospective study. Public Health Nutr, 14(7):1315-1320.
34Jiang W. et al. (2013) Coffee and caffeine intake and breast cancer risk: an updated dose-response meta-analysis of 37 published studies. Gynecologic Oncol, 129(3):620-9.
35Li X. J. et al. (2013) Coffee consumption and risk of breast cancer: An up to date meta-analysis. PLoS One, 8(1):e52681.
36Turati F. et al. (2010) Coffee and cancers of the upper digestive and respiratory tracts: meta-analyses of observational studies. Ann Oncol, 22(3):536-544.
37Bamia C. et al. (2015) Coffee, tea and decaffeinated coffee in relation to hepatocellular carcinoma in a European population: multicentre, prospective cohort study. Int J Cancer, 136(8):1899-908.
38Michaud D.S. et al. (2010) Coffee and tea intake and risk of brain tumors in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) cohort study. Am J Clin Nutr, 92:1145-50.
39Galeone C. et al. (2010) Coffee consumption and risk of colorectal cancer: a meta-analysis of case–control studies. Cancer Causes Control, 21:1949-59.
40Li G. et al. (2012) Coffee consumption and risk of colorectal cancer: a meta-analysis of observational studies. Public Health Nutrition, 16(2):346-57.
41Tang N. et al. (2010) Coffee consumption and risk of lung cancer: a meta-analysis. Lung Cancer, 67:17-22.
42Xie Y. et al. (2016) Coffee consumption and the risk of lung cancer: an updated meta-analysis of epidemiological studies. Eur J Clin Nutr, 70:199-206.
43Larsson S.C., Wolk A. (2007) Coffee consumption and risk of Liver Cancer: A meta-analysis. Gastroenterol, 132:1740-1745.
44Bravi F. et al. (2007) Coffee drinking and hepatocellular carcinoma risk: a meta-analysis. Hepatology, 46:430-5.
45Sang L.X. (2013) Consumption of coffee associated with reduced risk of liver cancer: a meta-analysis. BMC Gastroenterol, 13:34.
46Bravi F. et al. (2013) Coffee reduces the risk for hepatocellular carcinoma: An updated meta-analysis. Clin Gastro and Hepatol, 11:1413-1421.
47Bravi F. et al. (2009) Coffee drinking and endometrial cancer risk: a meta-analysis of observational studies. Am J Obstet Gynecol, 200:130-5.
48Je Y. and Giovannucci E. (2012) Coffee drinking and risk of endometrial cancer: findings from a large up-to-date meta-analysis. Int J Cancer, 131(7):1700-10.
49Zhou O. et al. (2015) Coffee consumption and risk of endometrial cancer: a dose-response meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. Scientific Reports, 5:13410.
50Yang T.O. et al. (2015) Tea and coffee and risk of endometrial cancer: cohort study and meta-analysis. Am J Clin Nutr; 101(3):570-8.
51Zhou Y. et al. (2012) A dose response meta-analysis of coffee consumption and bladder cancer. Prev Med, 51(1):14-22.
52Bai Y. et al. (2014) Relationship between bladder cancer and total fluid intake: a meta-analysis of epidemiological evidence. World J Surgical Oncol, 12:223.
53Wu W. et al. (2015) Coffee consumption and bladder cancer: a meta-analysis of observational studies. Sci Reports, 5:9051.
54Sugiyama K. et al. (2016) The association between coffee consumption and bladder cancer incidence in a pooled analysis of the Miyagi cohort study and the Ohsaki cohort study. Eur J Canc Prev, published online ahead of print.
55Lee H.S. and O’Mahony M. (2002) At What Temperatures Do Consumers Like to Drink Coffee?: Mixing Methods. J Fd Sci, 67(&):2774-2777.
56Brown F. and Diller K.R. (2008) Calculating the optimum temperature for serving hot beverages. Burns, 34(5):648-54.

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