In a study published in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, the clinical practice journal of the American Gastroenterological Association, researchers say that coffee consumption reduces risk of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), the most common type of liver cancer, by about 40 percent.
"Our research confirms past claims that coffee is good for your health, and particularly the liver," said Carlo La Vecchia, MD, and study author.
"The favorable effect of coffee on liver cancer might be mediated by coffee's proven prevention of diabetes, a known risk factor for the disease, or for its beneficial effects on cirrhosis and liver enzymes."
Scientists performed a meta-analysis of 16 high-quality studies and a total of 3,153 cases from 1996 through September 2012.
The results, however, do not necessarily indicate a causal relationship between higher coffee intake and lower HCC risk, as it could be attributed to the fact that patients with liver diseases voluntarily reduce their coffee intake.
"It remains unclear whether coffee drinking has an additional role in liver cancer prevention," added Dr. La Vecchia. "But, in any case, such a role would be limited as compared to what is achievable through the current measures."
Liver cancer is the sixth most common form of cancer in the world and the third most common cause of cancer death. HCC accounts for more than 90 percent of liver cancer cases. Primary causes of liver cancer include chronic hepatitis B and C infections, and other risk factors include alcohol, obesity and diabetes.
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