Good news for those of you who enjoy, excuse us, a "damn fine cup of coffee": Drinking coffee every day could cut your risk of developing liver cancer, a new study suggests. Even decaffeinated coffee has a protective effect.
Scientists from the Universities of Southampton and Edinburgh in the UK, performed a meta-analysis of 26 previous studies involving over 2 million participants to explore the links between coffee consumption and hepatocellular cancer (HCC), the most common form of primary liver cancer.
This is not the first time that coffee consumption has been linked to liver health. In 2016, the World Health Organization released a report reviewing 1,000 studies and concluded there was evidence for coffee consumption reducing the risk of both liver and uterine cancer.
This new study, published in the British Medical Journal, is the first to calculate the risk of HCC in relation to coffee. Primary liver cancer is the sixth most commonly diagnosed cancer in the world, but due to its poor prognosis, it is the second-leading cause of cancer death. HCC accounts for up to 90 percent of cases of chronic liver disease and mostly occurs in older people who already suffer from cirrhosis. Due to its poor prognosis, only 10-37 percent of patients are eligible for potentially curative tumor removal.
The study revealed that drinking just one cup of coffee a day can cut your risk of developing HCC by 20 percent. Two cups can cut the chance by 35 percent, and five cups can half the risk – although they do not recommend actually drinking five cups of coffee every day, as the potential harm of high caffeine intake needs further study itself.
They found that decaf coffee also appeared to offer a protection against the risk, although the benefit was smaller and less significant than caffeinated coffee.
“We have shown that coffee reduces cirrhosis and also liver cancer in a dose-dependent manner,” Professor Peter Hayes of the University of Edinburgh, told the Press Association. “Coffee has also been reported to reduce the risk of death from many other causes. Our research adds to the evidence that, in moderation, coffee can be a wonderful natural medicine.”
According to the study, liver cancer is on the rise, and in fact is increasing so rapidly that by 2030, the number of new cases will have risen by 50 percent to 1.2 million. With 2.25 billion cups of coffee drunk a day worldwide, perhaps help is coming from an unexpected quarter.