Coffee drinking may cut liver cancer risk - meta-analysis

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Cancer

Regular and high coffee drinking may reduce the risk of liver
cancer by 55 per cent, says a new meta-analysis of observational
studies.

The study, published in this month's Hepatology​, pooled data from six case-control and four cohort studies and found that an increase of one cup of coffee every day was associated with a 23 per cent reduction across all the studies. "Moreover, the apparent favorable effect of coffee drinking was found both in studies from southern Europe, where coffee is widely consumed, and from Japan, where coffee consumption is less frequent, and in subjects with chronic liver diseases,"​ wrote lead author Francesca Bravi from the Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri in Milan. Liver cancer is the sixth most commonly diagnosed cancer in the world, and third most common cause of death from cancer, according to Cancer Research UK. Despite these figures, the cancer remains relatively rare, with 18,500 new cases in the US every year, and about 3,000 in the UK. The highest incidences of the disease are in east and Southeast Asia, particularly China, and for this reason the current researchers looked at the effects of probiotic supplements on markers for the disease. The new study included 2,260 liver cancer cases (hepatocellular carcinoma - HCC) from studies based in Southern Europe and Japan. The researchers found drinkers of coffee were associated with a 46 per cent lower risk of HCC from case-control studies, and a 36 per cent lower risk from cohort studies. In addition, the authors calculated that moderate coffee drinking was associated with a 30 per cent lower risk, while heavy coffee drinking was associated with a 55 per cent lower risk. "The consistency of an inverse relation between coffee drinking and HCC across study design and geographic areas weighs against a major role of bias or confounding,"​ stated the researchers. Bravi and co-workers point out that animal and laboratory studies have indicated that certain compounds found in coffee may act as blocking agents by reacting with enzymes involved in carcinogenic detoxification. Moreover, other components, including caffeine, have been shown to have favorable effects on liver enzymes. "Despite the consistency of these results, it is difficult to derive a causal inference on the basis of the observational studies alone,"​ they added. "The results from this meta-analysis provide quantitative evidence of an inverse relation between coffee drinking and liver cancer,"​ concluded the authors. "The interpretation of this association remains, however, unclear and the consequent inference on causality and worldwide public health implications is still open for discussion." ​ The beverage, and its constituent ingredients, has come under increasing study with research linking it to reduced risk of diabetes, and improved liver health. Coffee, one of the world's largest traded commodities produced in more than 60 countries and generating more than $70bn in retail sales a year, continues to spawn research and interest, and has been linked to reduced risks of certain diseases, especially of the liver and diabetes. Source: Hepatology​ August 2007, Volume 46, Issue 2, Pages 430 - 435 "Coffee Drinking and Hepatocellular Carcinoma Risk: A Meta-Analysis"​ Authors: F. Bravi, C. Bosetti, A. Tavani, V. Bagnardi, S. Gallus, E. Negri, S. Franceschi, C. La Vecchia

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