Coffee drinkers might be less likely to develop the most common type of liver cancer, hepatocellular carcinoma, according to a new review of studies. Researchers from the Università degli Studi di Milan in Italy looked at 16 studies published between 1996 and 2012 that included data from 3,153 cases of hepatocellular carcinoma. Coffee consumption was associated with a 40 percent decreased risk of hepatocellular carcinoma, with some studies even suggesting a more than 50 percent decreased risk from drinking three cups of coffee a day. However, it’s still not known if coffee causes this decreased risk in liver cancer, or if people who have liver disease then try to drink less coffee, researchers noted. “The inverse association might partly or largely exist because patients with liver and digestive diseases reduce their coffee intake. However, coffee has been shown to affect liver enzymes and development of cirrhosis, and therefore could protect against liver carcinogenesis,” researchers wrote in the study. The findings are published in the journal Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology; researchers noted this is the first meta-analysis on liver cancer and coffee published since 2007. Coffee consumption has been linked in past research to decreased risks of a variety of other cancers, including prostate cancer, oral cancer, basal cell carcinoma (a type ofskin cancer) and endometrial cancer. However, moderation may be key — a recent study also linked high coffee consumption with a higher risk of death for people under age 55.
Photo Credit: John Vlahakis