Researchers from University of Southampton and the University of Edinburgh in the UK found that the more coffee consumed the greater the protection against hepatocellular cancer (HCC).
Drinking one cup more of caffeinated coffee a day was associated with a 20 per cent reduction in the risk of developing HCC, two cups more with a 35 per cent reduction, and up to five cups with a halving of the risk. The protection was found to be the same for both existing coffee-drinkers and those who did not usually drink it, and the more coffee consumed the greater the effect although there was little data available above five cups a day.Decaffeinated coffee was also found to have a beneficial, though less marked, effect, researchers said.
The study, published in the journal BMJ Open, examined the data from 26 observational studies, involving more than 2.25 million participants, to calculate the relative risks of developing HCC for drinking between one and five cups of caffeinated coffee a day. “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,” said Oliver Kennedy, from the University of Southampton.
“Our findings are an important development given the increasing evidence of HCC globally and its poor prognosis,” said Kennedy. HCC is the second leading cause of cancer death globally due to its poor prognosis and high frequency, especially in China and Southeast Asia. It mostly develops in people who are already suffering from chronic liver disease.
It is estimated that, by 2030, the number of new cases annually will have risen by about 50 per cent to more than 1.2 million. The compound molecules found in coffee possess antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anticarcinogenic and other beneficial properties which scientists believe may explain the lower rates of chronic liver disease and liver cancer experienced by coffee-drinkers, researchers said.
About 2.25 billion cups of coffee are consumed daily worldwide, and increased coffee consumption has already been shown to protect against serious non-cancer chronic liver disease (cirrhosis). “We have shown that coffee reduces cirrhosis and also liver cancer in a dose-dependent manner. Coffee has also been reported to reduce the risk of death from many other causes,” said Peter Hayes, from the University of Edinburgh.
“Our research adds to the evidence that, in moderation, coffee can be a wonderful natural medicine,” said Hayes.