IARC concludes that very hot drinks are “probably carcinogenic.”

  • The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) is a part of the World Health Organization (WHO) that conducts and coordinates research on cancer and carcinogens worldwide.  The IARC made global headlines in Fall 2015 when it reported that processed meat was carcinogenic and that red meat was “probably carcinogenic” to humans.
  • On June 15, 2016, the IARC reported that scientific evidence suggests that very hot beverages — around 65 degrees Celsius or higher — probably cause esophageal cancer.  Although the organization previously had rated coffee as “possibly carcinogenic,” it has now reversed this classification.  On the contrary, some studies indicate that coffee may reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer.
  • The WHO has indicated that the hot drink conclusion is based on limited evidence in humans and animals, and that more research is needed.  However, in light of the preliminary evidence, the recommendation is that consumers allow drinks to cool down — at least so that they are no longer “very hot” — prior to consumption.