In 2016, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) reviewed all available research on coffee and cancer, including research published since its original review in 1991, and found no clear association between coffee intake and cancer at any body site and, in some cases, found evidence that coffee drinking is associated with a reduced occurrence of certain cancers1. IARC therefore classified coffee in Group 3, for agents “not classifiable as to carcinogenicity to humans”.

Specifically, IARC concluded that there is inadequate evidence to suggest any link between coffee consumption and cancer of the bladder, oral cavity, pharynx, lung, larynx, ovary, stomach, oesophagus, kidney or colorectum; or with childhood leukaemia1. Furthermore, data suggests that there is no association between coffee consumption and increased risk of pancreas, breast and prostate cancers1. Research results also suggest that coffee drinking is associated with a reduced occurrence of cancers of the liver and uterine endometrium1.

The body of scientific research suggests that, overall, moderate coffee drinking is not associated with an increased risk of developing cancer and in the case of certain cancers, may be associated with reduced risk. Moderate coffee consumption is typically defined as 3-5 cups per day, based on the European Food Safety Authority’s review of caffeine safety2.

The content in this Topic Overview was last edited in September 2021. Papers in the Latest Research section and further resources are added regularly.

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