Coffee "does not cause cancer…but very hot drinks do"

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The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) reviewed studies on the relation between cancer and hot beverages. Photo: World Bank/ A'Melody Lee.

Drinking coffee does not cause cancer, UN health experts said Wednesday, but very hot drinks probably do.

The announcement comes from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the cancer agency of the World Health Organization (WHO).

It follows work by scientists to assess the potential cancer hazards of drinking coffee, maté–a popular infusion in South America–and very hot beverages.

Daniel Johnson has more.

After reviewing more than 1,000 studies, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) now believes that coffee does not cause cancer.

The evidence showed that coffee drinking had no negative effects on cancers of the pancreas, breast and prostate.

Reduced risks were even seen in some cancers.

More worrying is the finding that it's not so much what you drink as how hot you like to drink it that's the potential cause of problems.

According to the experts at IARC in Lyon, France, drinking very hot beverages probably causes throat cancer.

In 2012 the disease killed an estimated 400,000 people.

This conclusion – which IARC insists is based on "limited evidence" – follows studies in China, Iran, Turkey, and South America, where tea and the leaf infusion maté is drunk at about 70 degrees centigrade.

Drinking mate at much cooler temperatures was found not to cause cancer after scientific investigation, though IARC says this finding is based on inadequate evidence.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva.

Duration: 1’09″

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