Coffee is only the latest example of a trend that has become all too common. Activists who profess concern for human health and the environment latch on to an isolated finding – in this case the presence of trace amounts of a contaminant in coffee – and proceed to mount a well-orchestrated campaign to protect the public from the theoretical threat. In the process they use the issue to raise their profile and solicit funds. Similar campaigns have involved the herbicide glyphosate and genetically-engineered crops, BPA, and other substances.
The distinguishing feature of these campaigns is that they isolate a factoid from its scientific context and use it to instill fear in the public and to give bureaucratic regulators a new threat to regulate.
In the case of coffee, what is most egregious and problematic is that, while focusing on trace amounts of acrylamide in coffee and on the results of animal studies, the campaign ignores an abundance of solid evidence that has accumulated over decades concerning the health effects of coffee-drinking in humans. Even many commentators on this wrong-headed campaign fail to appreciate the weight of the epidemiologic evidence exculpating coffee.
Editor’s note: Geoffrey Kabat is a cancer epidemiologist at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Read full, original post: In California Coffee May Soon Be Listed As A Carcinogen