The World Health Organisation (WHO) has cleared coffee of its potential to cause cancer.

In 1991, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) under the WHO classified coffee as a possible cause of cancer, under classification 2B alongside chloroform, lead, and other substances, which sparked detailed review.

Today, however, WHO has reconsidered the evidence, stating that there is no conclusive evidence that coffee has the potential to cause cancer. The agency's decision was also based on the IARC’s review of more than 1000 studies on the possible association between cancer and coffee.

Recent news has suggested that drinking coffee can potentially cause cancer of the oesophagus. Oesophageal cancer is the eighth most common cancer in the world, and one of the leading causes of cancer-related deaths, responsible for around 4,000 deaths reported in 2012. Smoking and alcohol are among the most serious risk factors for the development of this kind of cancer.

However, researchers were quick to clear that the beverage itself is not cancerous, but its temperature when coffee and other drinks are served. The IARC suggests that scalding hot beverages of any kind have the potential to cause cancer when served at temperatures above 150 or 160 degrees Fahrenheit. In animal studies including rats and mice, “very hot liquids” including water could promote the development of tumours.

The downgrading of coffee’s status as a potential carcinogen is in line with findings of other major research organizations that suggest coffee to be part of a healthy diet, with benefits such as improvement of gut bacteria and reduction in the risk of heart disease and dementia.

Also, according to the American Cancer Institute, there are vast and well-designed studies that suggest that coffee can help prevent cancer, instead of causing it. For instance, one study found that aside from protecting the liver from cirrhosis, coffee also reduces the risk of colorectal cancer. Recent reviews from the IARC also suggest that coffee can also lessen the risk for cancers of the liver and the uterus.

Among other possible health benefits of coffee found by several studies include reducing the risk as well as preventing type 2 diabetes; decreasing the risk of Parkinson’s disease and helping in movement control of patients with Parkinson’s disease; protecting against heart failure; lowering the risk for multiple sclerosis due to its neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory properties and reducing the risk of premature death. MIMS