Coffee is the morning pick-me-up of millions – every day people drink coffee to increase wakefulness and improve concentration and focus. A new report has shown that regular coffee intake could also reduce liver cancer risk caused by daily alcohol consumption.

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Higher consumption of coffee may protect against liver cancer.

According to research conducted by the London, UK-based World Cancer Research Fund International, drinking three alcoholic drinks a day can be enough to cause liver cancer.

Amanda McLean, Director of World Cancer Research Fund UK, says: “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, for the first time, to be more specific about this.”

The findings were published in the Continuous Update Project (CUP) 2015 report on “diet, nutrition, physical activity and liver cancer.” They are based on an analysis of 34 studies that included 8.2 million people – more than 24,500 of whom had liver cancer.

The American Cancer Society estimates that each year in the US there are around 35,660 new cases diagnosed with liver and around 24,550 people that die from liver and intrahepatic duct cancers.

Evidence emerged from the same research finding strong evidence that drinking coffee can reduce the risk of liver cancer. This discovery follows research the World Cancer Research Fund published in 2013 showing that coffee reduced the risk of womb cancer.

Dr. Kate Allen, Executive Director of Science and Public Affairs at World Cancer Research Fund International, says:

“The new findings around alcohol, obesity and coffee are particularly interesting. There are also interesting new suggestions relating to exercise and fish.”

“The evidence about the relationship between diet, nutrition, physical activity and cancer is becoming well established. We hope that these new findings will inform the debate about possible public health implications and policy responses,” she adds.

Mechanisms that support a protective effect of coffee on liver cancer relate largely to studies in animals, although some human studies contribute to the evidence.

Both coffee and coffee extracts have also been shown to reduce the expression of genes involved in inflammation, and the effects appear to be most pronounced in the liver.

There is evidence from small intervention studies that coffee consumption reduces DNA damage in blood cells and prevents ex vivo-induced DNA damage in healthy volunteers.

Specifically, the study determined that the risk of developing liver cancer might be reduced by approximately 14% if individuals consume one cup of coffee per day.

The CUP panel reveals:

The evidence for coffee was generally consistent, and the dose-response meta-analysis showed a significantly decreased risk of liver cancer per one cup per day.”

This evidence is consistent with findings from three published meta-analyses. When stratified by sex, the association was significant for men but not for women.

There is no evidence regarding specific components of coffee that were attributable to the decreased risk.

There is uncertainty about the various variables that may affect the association between coffee consumption and reduced liver cancer risk, such as caffeine, sugar and milk. Due to the effect of coffee on other medical conditions, recommendations for coffee consumption cannot yet be made.

CUP concludes that a “higher consumption of coffee probably protects against liver cancer.”

Further strong research has emerged from the CUP showing that being overweight or obese is associated with an increased risk of the disease.

The CUP monitors and analyses research on cancer prevention and draws conclusions on how lifestyle factors such as weight, diet and physical activity can reduce the risk of developing the disease.

Medical News Today recently reported that in a new study, researchers found that drinking three to four cups of coffee a day could reduce the risk of endometrial cancer by almost a fifth.