CANCER
April 15, 2014

Coffee Drinkers at Lower Risk for Cancer

People who drink more coffee have a far lower risk of HCC, a common liver cancer. The more one drinks, the better.

If you needed another reason to love coffee, you can add preventing certain cancers to the list.

People who drank at least one cup of coffee a day had a lower risk of developing the most common type of liver cancer compared to those who consumed coffee less often, according to a study presented at the American Association for Cancer Research’s Annual Meeting.

People who drank one to three cups of coffee a day had a 29 percent lower risk of developing hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) than those who drank less than six cups of coffee per week. And in this case at least, more was better.

The study followed nearly 180,000 men and women for up to 18 years, keeping track of their coffee consumption as well as other dietary and lifestyle factors.

Researchers found that people who drank one to three cups of coffee a day had a 29 percent lower risk of developing a common form of liver cancer — hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) — than those who drank less than six cups of coffee per week. And in this case at least, more was better. Drinking four or more cups a day resulted in a 42 percent reduction in the risk for developing HCC.

Even after risk factors for HCC were taken into consideration, such things as age, obesity, smoking, alcohol intake, and diabetes, the benefit of coffee consumption remained.

“Now we can add HCC to the list of medical ailments, such as Parkinson’s disease, type 2 diabetes, and stroke, that may be prevented by coffee intake. Daily coffee consumption should be encouraged in individuals who are at high risk for HCC,” said V. Wendy Setiawan, one of the researchers said in a statement.

This is not the first time a study has found an association between coffee consumption and a decreased risk of liver cancer. A review looked at the results of 16 such studies and concluded that three cups of coffee a day could reduce the risk of liver cancer by up to 50 percent.

Despite the many studies showing the health benefits of coffee consumption, no one understands the how or why. “The roles of specific coffee components that are actually protective against HCC remain open to discussion,” Setiawan said.

Liver cancer is seen more often in men than women, and it is usually diagnosed in people age 50 and older. Alcohol abuse, hepatitis B or C, chronic liver inflammation, and hemochromatosis (iron overload) are common causes.

It should be noted that the findings from research studies presented at meetings are considered preliminary until they are published in a peer-reviewed professional journal.

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