If you’re anything like me, you love a good cup of coffee in the morning. But a recent California lawsuit raises concerns that the process involved in making it could potentially be harmful to our health.

Read on to see if your type of coffee could contain cancer-causing chemicals.

Roasted Coffee and Cancer

A non-profit group pushing for transparency on toxic chemicals has sued some of the nation’s largest coffeemakers. At issue is a chemical called acrylamide, which is known to cause cancer in rats and mice at very high doses.

It’s a chemical not just found in coffee — it’s also in potatoes, canned black olives, prune juice, and baked goods like bread and cookies.

It’s in some food packaging and is a component of cigarette smoke (4).

In 2002, the International Agency for Research on Cancer classified acrylamide as a carcinogen because of the studies showing its cancer-causing effects in animals. However, studies on humans have been mixed.

Four years ago, a research review found no significant association between eating foods containing acrylamide and various cancers.

Yet, acrylamide is still classified as a “potential occupational carcinogen” by The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, a branch of the CDC.

The Food and Drug Administration says it’s still gathering more information — but it also released a statement giving consumers suggestions for cutting the chemical out of their diets. So I wouldn’t be surprised to hear more about this issue soon.

What is Acrylamide?

The chemical compound Acrylamide is used in various industrial and commercial applications. It is present in some foods, particularly those fried or roasted at high temperatures. Acrylamide has also been found in cigarette smoke and in the exhaust of vehicles that use gasoline. Exposure to acrylamide (2, 3, 4) can occur through inhalation, skin contact, or ingestion. High levels of exposure can cause health problems, such as damage to the nervous system, increased risk of cancer, and reproductive toxicity. Therefore, it is imperative to be aware of the potential sources of acrylamide and to take steps to reduce its exposure.

Acrylamide and Cancer Risk

There is currently no convincing evidence that acrylamide exposure increases cancer risk in humans. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) considers acrylamide a Group 2A carcinogen. However, some studies in laboratory animals have shown that acrylamide exposure may increase the risk of certain types of cancer. Further research is needed to determine whether acrylamide exposure increases human cancer risk.

How To Avoid Acrylamide In Your Coffee

The good news is that you don’t necessarily have to eliminate coffee from your diet. There are ways to drink coffee to contain less of this questionable chemical.

#1 Use Dark Roast vs. Light Roast

Interestingly enough, acrylamide is formed during the early stages of roasting but is then broken down again as roasting continues. It means light roast coffee contains more acrylamide than dark roast coffee.

#2 Choose Arabica vs. Robusta

Research has found there are slightly higher levels of acrylamide in robusta beans. It is excellent news for Starbucks lovers because Starbucks uses 100% Arabica beans in their coffee.

#3 Acrylamide Decreases Over Time

According to the FDA, acrylamide levels (3) in coffee decrease over time. So the longer your coffee has been sitting on the shelf, the less acrylamide it contains.

#4 Drink Brewed vs. Espresso

There is some evidence that brewed coffee contains less acrylamide than espresso. Why is this? Because espresso generally has more of the ground bean sediment, which is where the bulk of acrylamide resides.

13 Coffee Brands With The Lowest Acrylamide

  • Yuban is 100% Columbian.
  • Hills Bros 100% Columbian
  • Seattle’s Best Medium Roast
  • McGarvey Twin Cities Blend
  • New England Coffee Co. French Roast
  • Hawaiin Isles Kona Sunrise
  • Starbucks French Roast
  • Aspen Select Texas Pecan Whole Bean Coffee
  • Harmony Bay Breakfast Blend
  • Cafe Bustelo Dark Roast
  • Medaglia D’Oro Caffe’ Espresso Coffee
  • Seaport 100% Pure Dark Roast
  • Hills Bros Coffee

Partha’s Prescriptions

  • Too much of anything can be harmful. Drink only 1-2 cups of coffee per day. Get the rest of your energy from eating raw, healing foods.
  • If you need more caffeine, try Matcha green tea. The caffeine in Matcha has a less dramatic effect on the nervous system than coffee and is also less likely to make you crash later.
  • Don’t drink coffee afternoon to avoid negative consequences on sleep.
  • Eat lots of antioxidant-rich, cancer-fighting foods like berries, green smoothies, raw cacao, pecans, cilantro, artichoke, kidney beans, etc.


  1. Coffee | The Nutrition Source | Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
  2. Acrylamide and Cancer Risk – NCI
  3. Acrylamide and Cancer Risk
  4. Coffee and Cancer: A Medical Overview (medicalnewstoday.com)
  5. Acrylamide in coffee: Is it harmful, and does it cause cancer? (medicalnewstoday.com)
  6. Cancer Biologists Find DNA-Damaging Toxins in Common Plant-Based Foods – 03/28/2013 (hopkinsmedicine.org)

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