Coffee 'lowers liver cancer risk'

Drinking coffee appears to lower the risk of developing liver cancer, according to findings published in the medical journal Gastroenterology.

"Data on potential beneficial effects of coffee on liver function and liver diseases have accrued over the last two decades," Dr Susanna Larsson and Dr Alicja Wolk, from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, write.

Several studies have found an inverse relationship between coffee consumption and liver enzymes levels that indicate a risk of chronic liver disease and cirrhosis.

The researchers therefore conducted a large review, or "meta-analysis," of published epidemiological studies to look at the association between coffee consumption and the risk of liver cancer.

The meta-analysis included 11 studies involving 2,260 liver cancer patients and 239,146 individuals without liver cancer who served as a comparison group.

An inverse association between coffee consumption and liver cancer risk was observed in all of the studies, and this association was statistically significant in six studies.

For every two cups of coffee per day, the investigators observed a 43 per cent reduced risk of liver cancer.

"A protective effect of coffee consumption on liver cancer is biologically plausible," Dr Larsson and Dr Wolk said.

The study says coffee contains large amounts of anti-oxidants, such as chlorogenic acids, which combat oxidative stress and inhibit the formation of carcinogens.

Experimental animal studies have specifically shown that coffee and chlorogenic acids have an inhibitory effect on liver cancer.

- Reuters June 5th 2007

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