Does a cancer risk lurk in your morning cup of joe? Many java addicts are skeptical about a California judge's recent ruling requiring cancer warnings on coffee purchased in that state.
The ruling came after an eight-year legal struggle by the Council for Education and Research on Toxics, or CERT. The tiny not-for-profit (which just happens to share an address with the lawyer who filed the lawsuit) took the coffee industry to court under a California law that requires warnings if chemicals known to cause cancer or birth defects are present.
Coffee-roasting creates a chemical byproduct called acrylamide that's a carcinogen; it's found in many foods that are cooked. CERT fought a similar legal battle over potato chips several years ago, and the industry agreed to remove the chemical.
Many, including healthcare professionals, oppose the court's coffee ruling. "On a 'cancer worry' scale from 0 to 10, coffee should be solidly at 0 and smoking at 10; they should not have similar warning labels," Dr. Edward Giovannucci, a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, wrote on his blog for the American Institute for Cancer Research.