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For Immediate Release: December 11, 2012
Contact: AICR Communications Department, communications@aicr.org, 202-328-7744

Coffee Not Linked to Cancer, Say Experts

But Holiday-Themed Coffee Drinks Can Still Add Pounds – And Increase Risk

WASHINGTON, DC – A new summary of the scientific evidence on coffee and cancer by the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) shows that the popular beverage does not increase cancer risk. But the cancer experts warn that many holiday coffee drinks are packed with hidden calories, and note that weight gain has been shown to make several cancers more likely.

Published online today, AICR’s web resource Foods That Fight Cancer™: Coffee builds on the conclusions of the AICR/WCRF expert report and Continuous Update Project (CUP) and allays cancer concerns raised by some earlier individual studies. That’s the good news. 

The bad news, say AICR experts, is that this time of year, millions of Americans indulge in high-calorie holiday-themed coffee drinks, some of which contain as many calories as a handful of holiday cookies. Even a few of these drinks per week add up quickly, and can put people on a path to weight gain – and the increased cancer risk that has been shown to come with it.

The cancer research organization is urging Americans to enjoy coffee smartly this holiday season. 

“We now know that coffee does not increase our risk for cancers of the pancreas and kidney,” said AICR’s Alice Bender, MS, RD, “and some studies are beginning to suggest it may even play a protective role against cancers at other body sites, such as the endometrium. But we also know that reaching for high-fat, high-calorie options contributes to gaining weight, which a major risk factor for seven kinds of cancer.”

Three Tips for Healthy Joe

Keeping three tips in mind can help us navigate the array of coffee drink options we’re faced with this time of year, Bender said:

  • Cut the Calories – Forgo the fancy, expensive holiday-themed beverages and choose low-fat, low-calorie coffee drinks instead. If you do decide to indulge, order the small.
  • Spice it Up – Adding a dash of nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves or allspice to your coffee adds festive flavor without extra calories.
  • Brew Your Own – Making your own coffee at home helps you monitor your calories.

Smart Choices Cut Calories

Examining the differences in fat and calorie content between various coffee drinks paints a stark picture:

One 16 ounce gingerbread latte with whipped cream – one of the most popular seasonal coffee drinks – weighs in at 320 calories and nearly 5 teaspoons of added sugar.  To burn off this one drink, you’d need to go on a brisk walk for 75 minutes.

A non-fat latte of the same size contains only 130 calories. Opting for it over a gingerbread latte cuts the calories by 60% and cuts out a whopping 13 grams of fat. You could burn this latte off on a 30-minute walk during your lunch break.

A 16-ounce black coffee with a sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg, on the other hand, contains only 5 calories and 0 grams of fat. Even if you added some half-and-half and a teaspoon of sugar, the calorie count would only climb to 39. You could burn that off on your coffee break. 

AICR’s Foods That Fight Cancer™

AICR’s Foods That Fight Cancer™: Coffee contains summaries of the latest research, tips on selecting and serving coffee, recipes for healthy coffee drinks and desserts, and Frequently Asked Questions.  The online resource also highlights emerging evidence on coffee’s links to risk for several cancer types.

Coffee is only the latest food to be added to the growing AICR’s Foods That Fight Cancer™ online resource, which includes content on soy, broccoli, berries, cherries, flaxseed and many other foods being investigated for their anti-cancer potential. 

Bookmark and keep checking back for updates.

Editors Note: AICR’s Foods That Fight Cancer™ is an independent online resource that reviews and summarizes scientific evidence, and is not associated with any food or beverage interest groups or trade associations.


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