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Study: Coffee reduces risk of liver cancer

Thursday - 10/24/2013, 10:43am  ET

coffee (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
A new analysis says coffee may help reduce the risk of liver cancer. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)

WASHINGTON - A daily cup of coffee may be able to do more than offer a caffeine boost, it might help reduce the risk of liver cancer, according to a new study that analyzed 16 high-quality studies done from 1996 through September 2012.

Drinking a cup of Joe reduces the risk of the most common type of liver cancer -- hepatocellular carcinoma -- by 40 percent, according to a study in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, a journal of the American Gastroenterological Association.

"The risk of HCC is reduced by 40 percent for any coffee consumption versus no consumption," the study says.

The meta-analysis of the 16 reputable studies of hepatocellular carcinoma involved more than 3,150 cases. The data looked at coffee drinkers versus non-coffee drinkers and showed consistent results across different time periods and populations.

"The favorable effect of coffee on liver cancer might be mediated by coffee's proven prevention of diabetes, a known risk factor for the disease, or for its beneficial effects on cirrhosis and liver enzymes," Carlo La Vecchia, an author of the study, told Science Daily, which reports some data indicate drinking three cups of coffee a day may cut liver cancer risk by more than 50 percent.

There have been discrepancies about the benefits of coffee. In August, the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings published a study saying men and women younger than 55 years old experienced a "positive association between coffee consumption and all-cause mortality."

Drinking coffee may have some other health benefits. Other studies found that moderate java consumption might ward off the recurrence of breast cancer, Type 2 diabetes, prostate cancer, oral cancer, basal cell carcinoma and Alzheimer's disease.

Liver cancer is the world's sixth most common cancer.

The percentage of Americans developing liver cancer has been rising slowly for several decades, according to the American Cancer Society. The society estimates in 2013, there will be more than 30,600 new cases of liver cancer and intrahepatic bile duct cancer in the United States and an estimated 21,600 people will die from the cancers.

Liver cancer is seen more often in men than in women, according to the American Cancer Society.

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