Drinking Coffee Daily May Halve Liver Cancer Risk

Drinking one cup of coffee daily was associated with a 20% reduced risk of HCC.Drinking one cup of coffee daily was associated with a 20% reduced risk of HCC.

Researchers have found that drinking just one cup of coffee per day could cut the risk of hepatocellular cancer - the most common form of liver cancer - by a fifth.

What is more, researchers found that the higher one’s coffee consumption, the lower the risk of hepatocellular cancer (HCC), with up to five cups of coffee each day associated with a 50% lower HCC risk.

Even decaffeinated coffee intake was found to reduce the risk of HCC, but to a lesser effect, the team reports.

Lead study author Dr. Oliver Kennedy, of the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom, and colleagues recently reported their findings in BMJ Open.

People with liver disease have the greatest risk of developing HCC, particularly those whose liver has been damaged through infection with hepatitis B or C, chronic liver inflammation, autoimmune disease, or alcohol abuse.

But according to Dr. Kennedy and colleagues, increasing coffee consumption may help to reduce the likelihood of developing HCC, even among adults with pre-existing liver disease. Researchers came to their conclusion by conducting a systematic review and meta-analysis of more than 26 observational studies, which included information on more than 2.25 million adults.

The team looked at the coffee intake of the participants - including how many cups they consumed each day, as well as whether the coffee was caffeinated or decaffeinated - and whether or not this might be associated with the risk of developing HCC.

Analysis revealed that drinking one cup of coffee daily was associated with a 20% reduced risk of HCC, drinking two cups of caffeinated coffee per day was linked to a 35% reduction, while the risk of HCC was halved with consumption of up to five cups of caffeinated coffee daily.

 Protective Effect

The protective effect of coffee against HCC was identified among both existing coffee drinkers and those who do not normally consume the beverage.

Previous studies have suggested a role for coffee intake in reducing the risk of liver cancer, and Kennedy and colleagues believe that their latest study supports such an association.

“Coffee is widely believed to possess a range of health benefits, and these latest findings suggest it could have a significant effect on liver cancer risk,” says Kennedy.

“We’re not suggesting that everyone should start drinking five cups of coffee a day though. There needs to be more investigation into the potential harms of high coffee-caffeine intake, and there is evidence it should be avoided in certain groups such as pregnant women.”

Nevertheless, the findings are an important development given the increasing evidence of HCC globally and its poor prognosis.

Researchers speculate that the antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-carcinogenic compounds in coffee may help to explain the link between coffee intake and a lower risk of liver cancer.

“Our findings suggest a central role for caffeine, given that the association was weaker for decaffeinated coffee,” the team notes.

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