After a cancer diagnosis, it is common to search for information on what foods can help fight the disease. Products, cooking methods, utensils, diets… that could be harmful or that could have a miraculous effect on the body. All this information from websites, books, magazines and even advice from friends or relatives who have heard or read about the subject, can generate a feeling of information overload and with it a feeling of anxiety, not knowing what is true and what is not. In some cases, people end up eliminating from their diet foods that are essential for dealing with the disease or, on the contrary, adding foods, herbs or supplements that may be harmful or that simply increase the cost of the diet without any real evidence of their effectiveness.
This section collects and analyses some of the most common myths and legends related to food and cancer treatment, explaining whether they are well-founded or have no firm scientific basis to support them. For the elaboration of this section a bibliographic review of scientific studies published in recent years, the declarations of existing official food safety bodies, both national and international, such as the ACSA (Catalan Food Safety Agency), the AECOSAN (Spanish Agency for Consumer Affairs, Food Safety and Nutrition of the Spanish Ministry of Health); the EFSA (European Food Safety Agency); the FDA (United States Food and Drug Administration), and the WHO (World Health Organisation) have been taken into account. The recommendations of different institutes, societies and associations specialised in research and dissemination of information on cancer prevention and treatment have also been considered for this section.
You do not have to eliminate red meat from your diet during cancer treatment. However, its consumption is entirely optional.
Meat is a very misconceived product. It has a bad reputation because high red meat consumption is associated with an increased risk of developing some types of cancer, especially colorectal cancer. This information has reached the false conclusion that consuming red meat during cancer treatment is harmful.
During treatment and subsequent recovery, eating red meat is not harmful, as protein intake is essential for tissue repair and regeneration. The recommended consumption of meat is three or four servings a week (100-125 g/serving), of which two can be red meat, prioritising the leanest parts, removing visible fat and limiting its intake when the meat is processed.
The working group from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) concluded that there is an association between high red and processed meat consumption and the development of colorectal cancer, classifying processed meats as a carcinogen and red meat as a probable carcinogen. Nevertheless, there is no consensus linking moderate consumption with the risk of cancer development or interaction during treatment. Meat, and red meat, in particular, is an excellent high-quality source of protein, zinc, iron, B vitamins and vitamin K.
The experts’ recommendation is to follow a healthy, balanced diet that includes daily consumption of dairy products. Dairy products should only be eliminated from your diet if your oncologist or your registered dietitian indicates so.
That the consumption of dairy products has a negative effect on people undergoing cancer treatment is another of the most common myths. This may be due to the false link between breast cancer and the type of fat contained in milk products. The fat in dairy products, which is mostly saturated, has always had a bad reputation.
During cancer treatment experts recommend following a healthy and balanced diet that includes daily consumption of dairy products (two or three servings a day), because of the nutrients they provide: proteins, vitamins, and minerals. Each person can consult their specialist about the most suitable version for their needs (whole milk, semi-skimmed or skimmed milk). In case of lactose intolerance, it is recommended to test the tolerance to fermented dairy products such as yogurt and cheese or use lactose-free dairy products. Soy, oat, rice, or almond milk are not nutritionally equivalent.
Current scientific evidence indicates that the adequate intake of dairy products such as milk, yoghurt and cheese is not associated with an increased risk of developing cancer, nor does it have a negative effect on treatment. Recent studies have shown that some components of milk, such as calcium, vitamin D, and lactoferrin, may have an anticarcinogenic effect and reduce the risk of certain types of cancer, such as breast or colon cancer, although further studies are needed to confirm these findings.
Eating sugar or foods containing different types of sugars, especially from fruit, vegetables, and cereals, in moderation and as part of a balanced diet, has no harmful effects on health.
Some sources have taken the results of studies revealing the effect of sugar on tumour cell growth out of context. This has led to the complete elimination of all sugars and sugar derivatives from the diet of many cancer patients for fear of ‘feeding’ the cancer cells.
Sugar is an essential nutrient and belongs to the group of carbohydrates, and they can be simple or complex. Simple sugars include refined sugar, pastries, and sugary drinks, and should be avoided. Nevertheless, simple sugars that come from fruit, or complex sugars coming from cereal, pasta or bread are highly recommended during cancer treatment because they produce energy and help the body function properly. Carbohydrates are part of a balanced diet and help to maintain an adequate nutritional state during cancer treatment. In the Mediterranean diet, 50-60% of daily energy should come from this food source.
In recent years, numerous authors have studied the effect of glucose on the replication of tumour cells, and some have evaluated the role of calorie restriction on tumour cells and molecular biology both in vitro and in vivo in animals. Such restrictions may have unintended consequences in patients undergoing cancer treatment, such as malnutrition, muscle loss and significant nutritional deficiencies, which may jeopardise the efficacy of cancer treatment. Therefore, current evidence in humans discourages dietary carbohydrate restriction during treatment and encourages a balanced diet with sufficient energy and protein intake.
A moderate consumption of chocolate has no negative effect on the health of patients undergoing cancer treatment. Chocolate, preferably dark or high in cocoa (minimum 70%), can be included in a balanced diet, in moderate quantities.
The origin of the myth, which has led some people to eliminate chocolate from their diet altogether, may lie in the fact that a lot of chocolate-based foods are relatively high in sugars and/or fats, and therefore in calories. High consumption of these products can contribute to weight gain and obesity, factors that can increase the risk of some diseases, including cancer.
We can include chocolate consumption as part of a healthy and balanced diet. Scientific evidence justifies a moderate consumption of dark chocolate (>70% cocoa), two or three times a week without exceeding 50 g per week.
There is no scientific evidence that links a moderate consumption of chocolate with an increased risk of developing cancer or interaction with cancer treatment. In recent years, the possible health benefits of consuming dark chocolate (>70% cocoa) have been studied due to its high content of polyphenols (with high antioxidant power) and other bioactive compounds, with benefits observed in the cardiovascular and nervous systems.
There is currently no evidence that commercially available artificial sweeteners are associated with the risk of developing cancer or that they have a negative effect on patients already undergoing treatment.
In recent decades, various claims have associated the consumption of sweeteners with various adverse health effects, including a possible link to cancer. Some media outlets have disseminated anecdotal reports or scientific publications that may lead to uncertainty about the safety of sweeteners.
People undergoing cancer treatment can safely consume sweeteners or foods containing sweeteners as part of a balanced diet and in moderate amounts.
Artificial or low-calorie sweeteners (acesulfame K, aspartame, saccharin...) are ingredients 150 to 600 times sweeter than sugar. They are used to sweeten food, especially in weight control diets or for people with diabetes. There is no evidence that sweeteners are associated with the development of cancer. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) reviews their safety on a regular basis, and the E number indicates that the product has been approved and is safe for human consumption.
Under no circumstances. Tap water (provided it is stipulated as drinking water) can be used for human consumption, both for cooking and drinking.
Some sources of information suggest that patients should not drink tap water during treatment as some of its components (fluoride, chlorine) can be harmful. The origin of this belief may have emerged from studies published in the 1990s on the development of bone cancer in rats that were given fluoridated water. In addition, there is a popular belief that tap water is not good to drink because it is not known where it comes from, how it is transported or what materials the pipes are made of.
Drinking water is essential, especially for people undergoing cancer treatment. It is necessary to keep the body's cells well hydrated so that they can better withstand the treatment. Patients should drink two litres of water (about eight glasses) daily. If you drink tap water regularly, you can continue to do so safely during cancer treatment.
There is no scientific evidence that proves any connection between the consumption of fluoridated water and the development of cancer or a detrimental effect on cancer treatment. Water fluoridation is a public health measure to help prevent tooth decay, but this is not used in tap water in Spain. Chlorine is added to water to disinfect it from microbial agents that could be harmful to our health. The World Health Organisation (WHO) brings together groups of scientists to evaluate health criteria to ensure the safety of water for public consumption.
Yes. Fish (both white and oily varieties) and seafood are essential in a balanced and varied diet. They are an excellent source of proteins, minerals, vitamins from group B (B6 and B12) and vitamins A, D, E, and the best food source of omega-3 fatty acids.
The origin of the myth comes from the apparent mercury content in oily fish and the health risks associated with its consumption. Some sources advocate its negative effect during cancer treatment and therefore promote the total elimination of oily fish from the diet.
Fish is an essential food and must be a regular part of the diet of people undergoing cancer treatment due to its multiple benefits. Patients should eat fish three to four times a week, where one or two of the times it should be oily fish (sardines, mackerel, anchovies, salmon, etc.).
Today, evidence shows that omega-3 fatty acids in oily fish have a positive effect during the treatment and prevention of some types of tumours. Mercury is an element that can bioaccumulate in some long-lived predatory species such as tuna, swordfish, groupers, or shark. Both the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the Spanish Agency for Food Safety and Nutrition advise the consumption of oily fish occasionally and recommend avoiding it in pregnant and breastfeeding women and children from 1 to 30 months. Small oily fish (sardines, anchovies, mackerel, etc.) and white fish do not accumulate methylmercury and can therefore be eaten regularly as part of a balanced diet.
EU-approved food storage and preservation containers designed for food use, if used correctly, are safe during cancer treatment.
Some sources link the use of plastic packaging (containing bisphenol A or BPA) to an increased risk of some types of cancer, such as breast or prostate cancer. These sources are probably conditioned by the fact that small amounts of BPA can migrate into food and because of its ability to mimic oestrogenic activity.
All citizens should reduce the use of single-use plastics, both for the sustainability and health of the planet, and should therefore limit foods and beverages that are wrapped up or come in plastic. Some cancer research institutes recommend limiting the use of BPA products in breast and other hormone-dependent cancers. This recommendation does not contraindicate the use of plastic food containers provided they are used correctly. Single-use containers should not be reused and should not be microwaved if they are not specified as suitable for microwaving. Algunos institutos de investigación en cáncer recomiendan limitar el uso de productos con BPA en cáncer de mama u otros hormonodependientes, recomendación no contraindica el uso de envases de plástico de uso alimentario, siempre que se utilicen correctamente; no se deben reutilizar los de un solo uso ni introducir en el microondas si no se encuentra especificado que son aptos para ello.
Since 1930 it has been known that BPA can mimic oestrogen, and so its effects on fertility, reproduction, and the endocrine system have been the subject of numerous scientific studies, the results of which are frequently analysed. In the latest assessment by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in 2015, experts concluded that there is no risk to the health of consumers, as dietary exposure to BPA is estimated to be below the established safe level. But in 2021 EFSA adopted the proposal of the Panel of technicians on the re-evaluation of the public health risk related to the presence of BPA in food and is suggested to significantly reduce the daily tolerable intake compared to its previous assessment in 2015, based on the evaluation of studies published between 2013 and 2018, especially those indicating adverse effects of BPA on the immune system. The results of the re-evaluation and therefore possible new recommendations are expected during 2022.
No. Teflon and all other commercially available materials suitable for cooking are safe and adequate for people during cancer treatment.
Some sources claim that non-stick cookware, a material better known as Teflon, has harmful health effects and recommend the exclusive use of pots and pans made from porcelain. The origin of this myth may lie in the fact that the fumes released from a non-stick frying pan if overheated to very high temperatures (350-650 °C) could be toxic if inhaled. These temperatures, however, are never reached in domestic kitchens.
There is no justification for the use of porcelain utensils as the only safe material for cooking during cancer treatment. Any commercially available material can be used safely. Nevertheless, it is recommended, not only for people affected by cancer but for the whole population, that utensils that are in contact with food should be of good quality, suitable for cooking and in good condition, without scratches or any other damage.
There is no confirmed scientific evidence that proves the materials used in cooking (silicone, plastics, ceramics, enamel, glass, stainless steel, iron, non-stick copper, and aluminium) have harmful effects on health, can cause cancer, or interfere with treatment, provided they are used according to the manufacturer's recommendations. Regarding Teflon, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) specifies that there is no evidence to classify Teflon tetrafluoroethylene as a carcinogen, so using materials containing Teflon does not pose a health risk. It could pose a risk if utensils are overheated to temperatures above 350 °C, which is not reached in domestic kitchens and would burn the food, which could not be consumed.
The use of a microwave oven does not present any risk to health. The health authorities have been guaranteeing its safety for years and it can be used daily to heat and cook food with complete peace of mind.
There are many myths surrounding microwaves and their effects on health, especially regarding their use causing the onset of cancer. The origin of these myths comes from the misinterpretation of the effects the radiation that these appliances use to heat or cook food has on people.
Always use microwave-safe containers and do not exceed the re commended cooking times so as not to overheat the food. Microwaves can be used for both heating and cooking food, representing a cooking method that has advantages over traditional systems: it minimises cooking time, is clean and preserves the nutrients of the food in a slightly higher proportion than other cooking methods.
Microwave cooking does not change the chemical composition of the food and does not emit ionising radiation. The appliance generates waves that interact with the polar molecules of food (mainly water) generating movement, and it is the collisions with adjacent molecules that produce the heat that cooks the food. The safety of microwave waves is endorsed by both the World Health Organisation and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and their alleged link to cancer was disproved in 2004 by the Spanish Association Against Cancer.
Some compounds found in grilled foods may be carcinogenic, but there is no evidence linking this effect to occasional consumption.
There is much controversy and discussion about the consumption of grilled or barbecued foods being associated with an increased risk of developing cancer. Some sources suggest that any food cooked with these techniques should be directly removed from the diet.
There is currently no specific indication as to how often these foods should be consumed during cancer treatment. Therefore, the recommendation would be the same as for the rest of the population: the occasional use of this type of cooking technique, leave a good enough distance between the grill and the food to avoid burning, and always remove the blackest parts before eating.
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and heterocyclic amines (HCAs) are compounds found in grilled foods (fish and meat) or some smoked foods. Some studies have shown that they may cause changes in DNA and thus be carcinogenic: some PAHs have been classified as probable carcinogens in humans by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) such as benzo[a]pyrene. In addition, exposure to high levels of HCAs may cause cancer in animals (the connection in humans being unclear). Nevertheless, there is not enough evidence to link occasional consumption with a harmful effect when treating cancer.
This is not necessary. Buying organic food is a personal choice and not a medical recommendation. Because of the extensive regulatory framework, both organic and conventional food can be consumed reliably.
Many unsupported sources recommend a "natural" or exclusively organic diet for people affected by cancer to avoid pesticide or antibiotic residues that may be contained in some conventional foods.
Consuming food produced more sustainably is beneficial for the sustainability of the planet, especially if it is local. It is recommended, whatever the choice: to buy from trusted, quality establishments, to consume local and seasonal products, and to wash fruit and vegetables thoroughly before eating. Buying organic food is, therefore, a personal choice and not a recommendation. It should be noted that not all organic food will be good, as some contain high proportions of saturated fats, sugars...
Although some studies indicate that there are higher concentrations of some health-promoting components in organic products, the claim that they are nutritionally or biologically better is not compatible with the current scientific evidence, which, to date, has not shown them to be safer or more nutritious than conventional foods. Regarding the effects of eating organic or conventional food on cancer prevention or treatment, some studies link the consumption of organic food to a lower risk of cancer, but more studies are needed to establish a concrete conclusion and recommendation.
Garlic and its close relatives such as onion, leek, or chives, contain substances that may have some beneficial properties against cancer according to laboratory tests, but their effect on humans has not yet been confirmed.
Garlic has been used since ancient times to treat various conditions due to its antiseptic, fungicidal, bactericidal, purifying, diuretic, and circulation-improving properties. The beneficial properties of garlic are so many that there have even been claims it has anti-cancer properties, taking results of observational or laboratory studies out of context, and which do not provide accurate and reliable information to clarify whether garlic consumption can in fact have beneficial effects during cancer treatment.
Garlic is a common ingredient in our culinary culture, commonly consumed and fully recommended as part of a balanced diet. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends a consumption of fresh garlic for adults of 2-5 grams/day (1 or 2 cloves of garlic) for its beneficial properties on the vascular system. Excessive consumption may cause side effects such as bad breath, strong body odours, heartburn, nausea, or vomiting. Similarly, high amounts or extracts should be avoided before and after any surgery, as they may increase the risk of bleeding. Therefore, its consumption is optional and always used as an ingredient in the kitchen.
Laboratory tests have shown that garlic and other vegetables in the same family contain allicin and polyphenols, such as quercetin, which may protect the cell from cancer-triggering substances, reduce cell proliferation or induce cell death in cancer cells. Although these observations show that garlic consumption may reduce the risk of cancer, there is currently not enough scientific evidence to recommend garlic as a food to help treat cancer, given that there are no human clinical studies to confirm this.
The consumption of berries is perfectly safe, but the fact that some health effects have been scientifically proven does not imply that they can cure cancer if consumed regularly or excessively.
The recommendation to consume berries, both to prevent and cure cancer, is widely spread and is one of the most recurrent pieces of advice when talking about nutrition and cancer prevention or treatment.
Including berries as part of our diet is completely safe in. The recommended fruit intake during treatment indicates three pieces or portions of fresh fruit (including berries) daily and as varied as possible, as each fruit has different properties that are beneficial to our health. The best way to take advantage of the properties of fruit is to consume local and seasonal fruit.
Berries (raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, blackcurrants, gooseberries, strawberries, etc.) are small fruits, rich in polyphenols and high in antioxidants. Although current research shows promising results, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) indicates that there is insufficient evidence to demonstrate the effectiveness of these compounds in the treatment and prevention of cancer. Nevertheless, amongst the functions attributed to berries are the ability to selectively block proteins that develop cancer, to interfere with the formation of new blood vessels near tumours and their progression, antioxidant capacity (scavenging off free radicals responsible for premature ageing) and the ability to develop mechanisms that induce apoptosis (death) of tumour cells. All evidence indicates that eating berries has a beneficial effect, but this research has so far only provided results at the laboratory level.
In order to verify that green tea consumption, due to its high antioxidant power, has the capacity to reduce the risk of developing cancer or to exert a curative effect, further studies on humans are still needed.
In recent years, much has been said and written about the health benefits of green tea, including that regular consumption can prevent cancer and help to cure it.
Drinking green tea is a good way to increase fluid intake and promote a good level of hydration, which is essential for a person undergoing cancer treatment. It will also provide antioxidants with beneficial health effects. High consumption of green tea (more than two cups a day) could lead to interactions with some of the drugs used in during treatment and you should consult your oncologist. Green tea contains theine, which has stimulant properties and is therefore not recommended to drink before going to bed or if you have insomnia.
Green tea contains a high proportion of polyphenols, such as epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), which is mainly responsible for its positive effects. Scientific laboratory and animal studies have shown it to be a strong antioxidant with the in vitro capacity to reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer, inhibit tumour cells, induce tumour cell apoptosis, and reduce angiogenesis. However, these effects need to be tested in human clinical studies. Because different types are available on the market and different people prepare them differently, their function is conditioned by different factors and a lot more information is needed to establish definite recommendations.
The effects of flaxseed consumption on cancer treatment or prevention of cancer are not proven.
Some people undergoing treatment include flax seeds in their diet because they have heard or read about their possible benefits. There is a wealth of information online and from various sources which claim that eating flaxseed can prevent and cure cancer, mainly prostate, lung, colon, rectal or breast cancer.
Although the effects of flaxseed on cancer are not proven, a moderate consumption (one to three tablespoons per day) benefits the circulatory system. Integrating flaxseed into a balanced diet is safe and entirely optional but is not a medical recommendation. If consumed, they can be milled or blended to facilitate the absorption of fatty acids or left whole in case of constipation. If you want to take more, consult your oncologist, as excessive consumption may lead to drug interactions. In the case of hormone-dependent breast cancer, their use should also be reported because of their estrogenic capacity.
Scientific research suggests that flaxseeds may reduce the risk of cancer through the lignans (polyphenolic compounds with phytoestrogenic capacity), linolenic acid, or omega-3 fatty acids that they contain. Animal studies conclude that lignans act as antioxidants and that flaxseed reduces the formation, growth or spread of some types of cancer. Studies in humans are very limited and there is not enough scientific evidence at present to recommend flaxseeds as protective or as therapy during treatment.
There is currently insufficient scientific evidence to confirm that its consumption during treatment has beneficial effects on the disease, as clinical trials and dose-effect studies are lacking.
In recent years, curcumin in turmeric has been described as one of the components with the most possible beneficial effects in preventing and treating cancer. This has led to an increasing number of sources recommending its consumption during treatment.
Turmeric is completely safe to use as part of a balanced diet. Its traditional use in dishes, like that of other spices, would not have any harmful effects. In the case of high doses, the oncologist should be consulted, as it may interfere with certain drugs used in chemotherapy treatment.
Turmeric is a spice whose rhizomes contain curcumin, which is thought to have potential anti-cancer effects. Multiple laboratories and animal studies have shown that it has anti-tumour and apoptosis activity in a broad spectrum of cells. Studies have also shown it to have antioxidant properties (preventing angiogenesis, inhibiting cancer cells, and slowing the growth and spread of cancer) and anti-inflammatory effects on cancer cells. Human clinical trials on these effects of curcumin are in early stages, and it remains uncertain whether it will be introduced into cancer treatment.
It is not recommended to follow alternative diets or to consume food supplements without a prescription from the oncologist or registered dietitian.
The belief in the positive effects of antioxidant supplements is very popular in cancer treatment. The consumption of supplements and the use of alternative diets is a widespread practice amongst people affected by cancer, usually carried out without the prescription of an oncologist, and can therefore be dangerous, ineffective, or counterproductive for the oncological treatment being carried out.
American Cancer Society. Nutrición para la persona con cáncer. EUA: American Cancer Society; 2014 [citado marzo de 2015]. Disponible en: http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/cid/documents/webcontent/002904-pdf.pdf
Not many benefits have been found and proven in clinical trials and there is insufficient evidence to assess the balance between the benefits and dangers of supplement use in oncology. There are a wide variety of supplements on the market, varying in composition and quality. Many are harmless and safe, but others may cause serious and harmful side effects when interacting with treatment. Evidence on alternative diets, such as the results of a study published in the journal Anticancer Research, indicates that not only do they not contribute to the enhancement of cancer prognosis, but they may compromise the nutritional status of patients. Some alternative diets have been related to weight loss, appetite loss, constipation, or vitamin deficiencies, amongst others.
No. There are no scientific studies that have linked genetically modified foods to oncological processes.
There is a false belief that genetically modified or transgenic foods are linked to tumour processes. It is believed that by modifying the genes of the food, the genes of the people who eat it are also modified, giving place to mutations and the development of possible tumours.
The recommendation to follow a healthy and balanced diet based on the Mediterranean diet can be made whilst including genetically modified foods, as the European Union guarantees their safety. In addition, regulations make it compulsory to label all genetically modified foods and the ingredients containing or produced from genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Thus, whether to include them in your diet or not is a personal choice.
Genetically modified foods are those whose genetic material has been modified using modern genetic engineering techniques to give them a specific property, for example, to improve their nutritional characteristics, improve population nutritional deficiencies, enhance their growth, make them more efficient, or offer crop resistance to diseases or pests, amongst others. The EU guarantees that these foods are safe to eat before they are commercialized by checking that they do not cause allergies, do not transfer genetic material, are not resistant to antibiotics and that there are no significant nutritional changes. To date, there are no reliable scientific studies or proven evidence linking their consumption with the appearance of tumours or interference during cancer treatment.
Moderate coffee consumption during cancer treatment is safe, although its intake may or may not be recommended depending on the symptoms or side effects that arise. For this reason, it is always advisable to consult your medical team.
On the one hand, years ago, some scientific studies linked coffee intake to an increased risk of cancer, especially pancreatic cancer. Roasted coffee also generates acrylamide, a highly controversial chemical substance. On the other hand, more recent studies claim that coffee consumption may be associated with a lower incidence of developing some types of cancer and provide other beneficial health effects. These two facts have raised questions and doubts amongst people undergoing cancer treatment.
There is insufficient evidence to recommend the exclusion or ingestion of coffee during treatment, so its consumption is optional. The current recommendation is that moderate coffee consumption can be part of a balanced diet. The EFSA (European Food Safety Agency) advises not to exceed an intake of 400 mg of caffeine per day (a dose which, spread over the day, has no harmful effects). It is important to keep in mind that caffeine content depends on the type of coffee or dilution (amongst other things) and that on average, a cup of espresso contains about 80 mg of caffeine. Therefore, it is best not to drink more than four cups of coffee a day. A high caffeine intake can interfere with sleep patterns, cause digestive problems, or lead to imbalances in blood pressure.
Recent and better-designed studies than the initial ones have not found any link between the intake of coffee and the development of cancer. The studies link its consumption and its antioxidant properties to different health benefits and a lower risk of developing some types of cancer, thus being eliminated from the list of possible carcinogens of the World Health Organisation (WHO). No study has been able to convincingly link acrylamide in coffee to it being a risk factor either. As most of the results found are based on observational studies, more research is needed to better understand the relationship between coffee dose-effect and its consumption and benefits. The results of a 2018 evaluation by Nutrimedia, a project by the Observatory of Scientific Communication (OCC-UPF) in collaboration with the Ibero-American Cochrane Centre (CCIb), show that the available research results have a very low degree of certainty and that it is, therefore, uncertain or doubtful to claim that coffee is beneficial to health. These studies indicate that consuming three to four cups a day, compared to not drinking coffee at all, has a minimal effect on reducing the risk of death and cardiovascular disease. They also show that high coffee consumption, compared to low consumption, has a minimal effect on reducing the risk of developing cancer.
There is currently no evidence linking an intake of food additives (within the acceptable daily intake) approved by the European Food Safety Authority with an increased risk of developing cancer or interactions during treatment.
There are still many reports today linking food additives to multiple adverse health effects such as allergies, intestinal dysbiosis, and increased risk of developing cancer or interactions with cancer treatments, leading to uncertainty about their safety and causing many people to avoid them.
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) reviews the safety of food additives regularly with a very thorough evaluation, the last of which was completed in 2020. The letter E indicates that it has been approved and is safe for human consumption. Therefore, foods containing food additives can be part of a healthy and balanced diet. However, a healthy diet is one based on fresh, local and seasonal foods, with little or no processing, and above all without ultra-processed foods, so the intake of additives should be very low.
Food additives are substances intentionally added to food to perform technological functions: to give colour, to improve texture, to sweeten, to help preserve, amongst many others. There are many different types and additives should always appear in the list of ingredients on the packaging or container indicating the function they perform in that specific product. The scientific evidence on the negative effects of food additives is extensive, but often not very well documented or rigorous. This is why EFSA evaluates food additives exhaustively and establishes an acceptable daily intake for each additive (an estimate of the amount of substance that a person can ingest every day for a lifetime without it being a substantial risk to their health).