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Coffee Lowers the Risk of Liver Cancer, New Study Suggests

Study, by the World Cancer Research Fund, found strong evidence that drinking coffee can reduce the risk of the disease.

Madlen Davies, Daily Mail, Mar 30, 2015

Drinking coffee may reduce the risk of cancer in heavy drinkers, research has found.

A new study shows the hot drink can protect against liver cancer, which is often associated with alcohol abuse.

For each cup consumed a day, there is about a 14 per cent decreased risk of liver cancer, found the study by the World Cancer Research Fund.

But although the research found strong evidence that drinking coffee can reduce the risk of the disease, the report did not recommend the amount that should be drunk.

The report comes after research published by the same team in 2013 found drinking coffee reduces the risk of womb cancer.

And a study by the American Cancer Society found drinking four cups of coffee a day almost halves the risk of deadly mouth cancer.

The popular drink has already been linked with reducing the chances of getting bowel cancer, stroke and Alzheimer's disease.

However, drinking too much may increase heart rate and blood pressure and pregnant women are advised to limit their intake because of concerns that excess coffee may increase their chances of having small babies.

The World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) report warned that while coffee might protect against the effects of alcohol abuse, just three alcoholic drinks a day can be enough to cause liver cancer.

The increase in risk per 10g of alcohol consumed - around one alcoholic drink - is about 4 per cent, says the World Cancer Research Fund.

As a result three or more drinks pose a significant cancer risk.

The review also found a strong association between obesity and liver cancer and that physical activity and fish consumption may also decrease the risk of liver cancer, although more research is needed before any firm conclusions can be reached.

The WCRF's continuous update project reviewed global research into the relationship between diet, weight and physical activity, and liver cancer.

In all, 34 studies were analysed covering 8.2million people of whom more than 24,500 had liver cancer.

Previous research by the project has shown alcohol to be strongly linked with a range of cancers, including liver.

The WCRF recommends women should try to limit their alcohol intake to one drink per day and men to two.

Amanda McLean, director of WCRF UK, said: 'Around three or more drinks per day can be enough to cause liver cancer. Until now we were uncertain about the amount of alcohol likely to lead to liver cancer. But the research reviewed in this report is strong enough to be more specific.'

Globally, liver cancer was one of the five most common sites of cancer diagnosed in men in 2012, according to World Health Organisation figures.

The disease caused 745 000 deaths worldwide in the same year, it warned.


To prevent weight gain, if you want to have a coffee, it’s wise to choose unsweetened versions with skimmed or semi-skimmed milk, according to the World Cancer Research Fund.

But when it comes to liver cancer risk, although there’s strong evidence that coffee may be beneficial, it's not clear why, says the charity.

We all drink coffee in different ways and it could be how much you drink, how regularly, the type of coffee or what you add to it that has an effect.

The report estimates that nearly a quarter of cases could be prevented if people kept a healthy weight and did not drink.

Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, chairman of the Alcohol Health Alliance UK, said: 'The findings from this study further demonstrate the urgent need for mandatory health warnings on alcohol products.'

Dr Sarah Jarvis, medical adviser for alcohol education charity Drinkaware, said the research revealed a worrying link with obesity, but some people had a 'blind spot' when it comes to the calories in alcohol.

She added: 'To help reduce the risk of getting alcohol-related liver cancer, it is best to drink within the lower-risk guidelines of 2-3 units a day for women, that's a 175ml glass of 13 per cent wine, or 3-4 units a day for men, a pint and a half of 4 per cent beer.'

Sir David Spiegelhalter, Winton professor of the public understanding of risk, University of Cambridge, said that while the increase in risk of liver cancer per 10g of alcohol consumed was about 4 per cent, that level of alcohol was 'extremely unlikely to cause cancer', especially as the report says the increase in risk only starts at levels above 5.5 units a day.

He added: 'Liver cancer is rare: about one in 100 men and one in 200 women get it. So if you already drink a lot, and then drink even more, your risk goes up a small amount.'

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