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In an assessment released Wednesday, June 15, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which depends on the World Health Organization (WHO), believes that there is no evidence that drinking coffee promotes the development of malignant tumors, but considers that beverages consumed at a temperature of 65 ° C or above are "probably carcinogenic to humans".
"We analyzed a thousand studies, including 500 epidemiological studies," said Dr Dana Loomis, deputy head of IARC expert meetings. And we haven't found any evidence that coffee is carcinogenic. This led us to classify this drink in group 3. ”This group includes substances considered as unclassifiable as to their carcinogenicity. The previous IARC evaluation of coffee went back fifteen years and had led to its classification in group 2B, "possible carcinogen".
The studies analyzed included around 20 cancers, including those of the female breast, pancreas, prostate, endometrium (body of the uterus) and liver. Regarding the last two, some studies have even found an "inverse association", coffee consumers having a lower risk than people who do not drink it, but the person responsible for the "monographs" (evaluations) IARC, Dr Kurt Straif, clarified that it was not possible to draw definitive conclusions about a possible protective effect of coffee consumption.
ARC also analyzed the scientific literature available on mate, a traditional infusion of an herb (Ilex paraguariensis), traditionally consumed hot in Latin America. In 1991, mate was classified as "probably carcinogenic to humans" (group 2A). Again, the IARC has revised this classification downwards and placed mate in group 3 (unclassifiable as to its carcinogenicity) when it is consumed not too hot (less than 65 ° C).
On the other hand, he considers that all hot drinks (over 65 ° C) are "probably carcinogenic to humans" (group 2A). They are believed to promote cancer of the esophagus. The mechanism is not fully understood, but very hot fluids could damage the cells and thus promote a subsequent tumor process.
The mission of IARC, which is part of WHO, is "to identify the causes of cancer, which will enable preventive measures to be taken to reduce the burden and suffering associated with the disease." The monograph programs - substance evaluations - is a central element of its activity. Since 1971, "more than 900 agents have been evaluated of which more than 400 have been classified as carcinogenic or potentially carcinogenic to humans." The IARC is supported by interdisciplinary working groups, made up of experts required to declare interests.
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