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Can Drinking too Much Coffee Lead to Cancer?

With California Superior Court Judge Elihu Berle’s ruling this past March that coffee should be sold with a cancer warning, many coffee lovers are reconsidering their relationship with the popular beverage.

The ruling stems from a chemical known as acrylamide, a carcinogen produced in the coffee bean roasting process. It can also be found in some vegetables when cooked at high temperatures, such as potatoes, as well as tobacco smoke, according to the National Cancer Institute.

However, the American Cancer Society finds that direct links between coffee and cancer deaths remain unclear. Yet, there are still some who are reconsidering their coffee drinking habits.

“When I went out with friends in high school, we would always go to the coffee shop,” Georgia State student Don Johnson said. “But my stomach became more sensitive, and I started feeling nauseous after drinking coffee, so I stopped for a while. After that, I only drank water and green tea every day.”

Despite no longer drinking coffee frequently, Johnson said he still enjoys the occasional cup.

“I like the flavor of coffee and coffee-based drinks, but I’m definitely going to be thinking more about my coffee consumption,” Johnson said. “I feel like people should put more thought into the things they’re putting into their bodies.”

There are others, however, such as Georgia State psychology student and former barista Brill Carrington, whose relationship with coffee remains unaffected by the ruling.

“I love coffee,” Carrington said. “I worked at a coffee shop for a year and a half, and I loved it. I got addicted to coffee, but moved past it and now I just like the taste. What is life enjoyed without a cup of coffee?”

While Carrington said she acknowledges the health risks associated with coffee, she’s more concerned about caffeine than carcinogens in the brew.

“I think people should cut down on coffee but not because of cancer,” Carrington said. “Caffeine, being a stimulant, is really bad for you. If anything, coffee should come with a stimulant warning.”

The dangers of caffeine have been long reported by health professionals, and in some cases have even caused death from overdose, such as with 16-year-old Davis Cripe who passed away on April 26, 2017, in South Carolina after drinking multiple beverages containing the drug.

For Georgia State students looking for coffee alternatives, Saxby’s employee and Georgia State senior Ciara Bernard said that many can be found in the coffee shop located in the Atlanta campus library.

“We have teas, such as chai, smoothies, as well as other alternatives,” said Bernard. “They’re pretty popular because a lot of people come in not wanting coffee.”

Despite not drinking coffee herself, Bernard said she’s not specifically concerned about the potential health risks associated with the drink.

“I think it could cause risks to your health, but there are many things we consume that have risks,” Bernard said. “There are foods that we eat, even some vegetables, that also have carcinogens. So why specifically coffee?”


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