New research has found that regular coffee consumption can reduce the risk of liver cancer by 40 percent. In fact, the study—published in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology—found that people who consume more than three cups of coffee per day reduce their risk by more than 50 percent.[i]
The liver is the largest organ in the body and is responsible for over 500 functions, including the secretion of glucose, proteins, vitamins, and fats; the production of bile; the processing of hemoglobin; and detoxification of numerous substances. Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the most common type of primary liver cancer. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), liver cancer is the ninth leading cause of cancer death in the United States and the third leading cause of cancer death worldwide.
Researchers conducted a meta-analysis of data collected between 1996 and 2012 and then selected 16 studies that involved a total of 3,153 liver cancer cases. They included data on 900 more recent cases of HCC published since their last detailed study from 2007.[ii]
They found that individuals who consume any amount of coffee have a 40 percent reduced risk of HCC compared to those who drink no coffee. What’s more, the higher the consumption, the more the risk was reduced. Those who drank more than three cups per day had a 50 percent or more reduced risk. The association between coffee and reduced risk was consistent regardless of gender, alcohol consumption, or history of hepatitis or liver disease.
The researchers concluded that coffee appears to reduce the risk of liver cancer. They speculate that it might affect liver enzymes and the development of cirrhosis and therefore, could protect against liver cancer.
[i] Bravi F, Bosetti C, Tavani A, et al. Coffee reduces risk for hepatocellular carcinoma: An updated meta-analysis. Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology. 2013; 11(11): 1413-1421.e1.