The battle has been raging for years: is coffee a carcinogen or not? A judge in California wants to put the matter to rest – and he’s declared that there’s enough evidence for risk that California coffee sellers should have to post cancer warnings. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the science is settled.

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For eight years, a lawsuit between the non-profit Council for Education and Research on Toxics and big coffee has been raging in the courts. The non-profit states that acrylamide, which is used in processing the beans, is a known carcinogen and potentially harmful to anyone who consumes coffee.

Related: Could coffee help fight cancer?

But a lawsuit involving Starbucks and 90 other coffee makers claim that the chemical exists in small enough concentrations that it’s no big deal. This week, Superior Court Judge Elihu Berle ruled that the coffee companies hadn’t defended their argument and that coffee sellers should have to warn buyers of the risks.

Science hasn’t been able to completely answer the question. Some studies show that coffee actually helps lower your risk for some cancers, and the jury is still out on its impact for other cancers. Coffee makers have a few weeks to challenge the ruling before the order would go into effect.


Images via Unsplash (1, 2)