Coffee

Do Coffee Drinkers Need Cancer Warnings?

We asked Californians what they think.

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Do customers need to be told that coffee might give them cancer? According to the state of California, they do.

Thanks to Prop 65, enacted in 1986, businesses are required to post a warning about the presence of any substance known by the state's environmental hazard office to "cause cancer or reproductive toxicity."

The list is updated yearly and now contains more than 800 substances.

A recent ruling from a Los Angeles judge orders major coffee chains such as Starbucks and Peet's to post explicit warnings that chemicals in coffee might cause cancer.

Acrylamide is a byproduct of roasting coffee beans and appears on California's list because studies show that lab rats are more likely to develop cancer when administered extremely high doses of the chemical.

A human being would need to drink approximately 16,000 cups of instant coffee, or 35,000 cups of regular coffee, a day for life to reach the lowest levels of acrylamide that increased cancer risk in mice.

The World Health Organization has said that there's "inadequate evidence" that coffee drinking increases cancer risk.

We stationed ourselves near a coffee shop in Los Angeles and asked people how far they think labeling should go.

Produced by Zach Weissmueller and Justin Monticello.

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