A new study brings good news for the coffeeholics; according to the study drinking up to five cups of coffee each day can cut the risk of hepatocellular cancer (HCC) – the most common form of liver cancer – by half.
And, for the one-cup-a-day-ers, coffee drinking may lower their chances of developing HCC by a fifth.
Even decaffeinated coffee has a protective effect.
The study was led by Dr. Oliver Kennedy, of the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom. Dr. Kennedy says:
“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.”
This is not the first time that coffee drinking has been associated with liver health. A 2016 report by the World Health Organization (WHO) said there was evidence that coffee drinking reduces the risk of both liver and uterine cancer.
American Cancer Society estimates around 40,710 new cases of liver cancer will be diagnosed in the U.S. this year. The majority of these cases will be HCC.
People with liver disease – especially those who suffered liver damage through infection with hepatitis B or C infection, chronic liver inflammation, alcohol abuse, or autoimmune disease – have the greatest risk of developing HCC.
But the researchers suggest more coffee drinking may help to reduce the chances of developing HCC, even among people with pre-existing liver disease.
The conclusion was based on the findings of a systematic review and meta-analysis of more than 26 observational studies. From these studies, the researchers analyzed data on more than 2.25 million adults.
Dr. Oliver and colleagues examined the participants’ coffee drinking habits – including how many cups they drank each day, as well as whether the coffee had caffeine in it or was decaffeinated – and whether or not their coffee drinking might be linked with the risk of developing HCC.
The researchers found that drinking one cup of coffee daily could reduce the risk of HCC by 20%, drinking two cups of caffeinated coffee each day was associated with a 35% decrease in HCC risk, while the risk was cut down to 50% with drinking up to five cups of caffeinated coffee daily.
Decaffeinated coffee drinking was also associated with a reduced risk of HCC, though to a lesser degree than caffeinated coffee.
Coffee drinkers, as well as those who do not usually drink coffee showed the protective effect of coffee.
The researchers, however, didn’t have any data to discern whether having more than 5 cups of coffee every day might lower the risk of developing HCC.
The researchers say their study backs previous studies which revealed coffee intake reduces risk of liver cancer.
“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, our findings are an important development given the increasing evidence of HCC globally and its poor prognosis,” says Dr. Kennedy.
Dr. Kennedy and colleagues hypothesize that protective effect of coffee against liver cancer may be due to the anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-carcinogenic compounds found in coffee.
The study was published in the BMJ.
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