Coffee has a chemical in it that is known to cause cancer, however doctors say there is no worry

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - California coffee shops may soon be forced to warn customers about a possible cancer risk linked to their morning jolt of java.

The state keeps a list of chemicals it considers possible causes of cancer, and one of them, acrylamide, is created when coffee beans are roasted.

And under proposition 65 business must warn about the presence of agents that can affect health. "It's gonna be hard to make people give up their morning coffee," said Cynthia Price, owner of Blue Oak Coffee Roasting. Price isn't sure these warning will make people give up their morning jolt. "I think initially it will cause some concern with people until they educate themselves," said Price.

While this chemical is present Dr. Ravi Patel the medical director at the Comprehensive Blood and Cancer Center says that there is about six to ten particles per billion o it is a very small and insignificant amount.

In addition to coffee, acrylamide can be found in potatoes and baked goods like crackers, bread and cookies, breakfast cereal, canned black olives and prune juice, although its presence is not always labeled. It's in some food packaging and is a component of tobacco smoke. According to the National Cancer Institute, people are exposed to "substantially more acrylamide from tobacco smoke than from food."

Local owners don't think that customers will give up their coffee habit, but they might change the way they drink coffee. "It might cause the trend to move away from lighter roasted coffees into darker roast because it's found in less quantity in a darker roast coffee, so I expect to see that," said Price.

Coffee has been much studied over the years, and research has shown that it provides several health benefits, including lowering your risk of early death. It may reduce your risk of heart disease, multiple sclerosis, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer's and even some cancers like melanoma and prostate cancer. However, a review by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, a branch of the World Health Organization, found that drinking very hot beverages was "probably carcinogenic to humans" due to burns to the esophagus; there was no relation to the chemical acrylamide. "All practical purposes, a few good cups of coffee a day will keep you awake and get you going," said Dr. Patel.

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