Most of us love Coffee and a significant number of us wouldn't be able to survive without it. But there's a dark side to coffee and it's not just the color. Coffee contains a chemical called acrylamide, which, according to the American Cancer Society, may increase the risk of certain types of cancers.

In 2010, there was a lawsuit put forth by the Council for Education and Research on Toxics (CERT) that called out several companies that make or sell coffee for failing to inform their customers about coffee's potential cancer risk. Now, CNN reports that several of those companies have settled and promised to add warnings to their products about the risk.

Risks and benefits

So will drinking coffee actually increase your cancer risk?

According to ABC's chief medical correspondent, the answer is, probably no. Coffee alone isn't likely to increase your cancer risk, but it can be a contributing factor. Many things can contribute to cancer, even the simple act of stepping outside and into the sun. The best thing to do is to be aware of these factors and try to have most things in moderation, including coffee.

Though coffee can be a cancer risk, it also has many benefits. The drink has been linked to longevity and may actually reduce your risk of Alzheimer's, according to CNN. In fact, some studies have linked coffee to a reduced risk of some cancers such as skin and liver cancer.

However, according to Forbes, coffee can increase the risk of esophageal cancer just by its temperature. Any hot drink has the possibility of damaging the esophagus cells over time, eventually leading to cancer.


The other cancer-causing component of coffee, acrylamide, is a well-known carcinogen which is generally found in foods cooked at high temperatures and cigarette smoke.

The chemical is most commonly found in potatoes, burnt toast and baked goods. To avoid it in foods, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) recommends reducing the cooking time.

Besides being a carcinogen for humans, the chemical is also harmful to animals, in large quantities, according to scientific studies. However, the amount of acrylamide present in those studies was greater than the amount that most people get through their diet.

The chemical is present in about one-third of the calories that the average person in the US consumes.

In California, the chemical was added to its carcinogen list in 1990 and what makes this lawsuit more powerful is, California's Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement act, which mandates companies to be transparent about harmful ingredients in their products. Though this warning will most likely not stop anyone from drinking coffee, it will make drinkers more aware of the risk and may lead to research in reducing the chemical or removing it altogether from coffee.