QUB Research suggests coffee drinkers have 50% reduced risk of liver cancer

  • Researchers from Queen's University Belfast have published findings linking coffee consumption with a 50% reduction in the risk of developing liver cancer.

    Over half of us drink coffee on a regular basis, and it seems as if every few months there's another story in the news suggesting that it's either very good or bad for us. Researchers at Queen's University Belfast have now presented evidence that coffee could have protective effects against the most common form of liver cancer.

    The team at QUB analysed data from participants in the UK Biobank study, one of the largest studies of middle-aged individuals in the world that collects data on their genetics and exposure to a wide range of environmental factors. The health and consumption habits of 471,779 participants were analysed to determine the effect coffee consumption would have on risk of liver cancer.

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    The team's findings were published in British Journal of Cancer earlier this year and presented at the National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) conference in Glasgow this week. The key finding was a reduction of around 50% in the risk of hepatocellular carcinoma, the most common form of liver cancer.

    Over 75% of the study participants reported drinking coffee, and researchers worked to account for confounding factors such as gender, social and economic status, and alcohol consumption. The statistics showed that those who drank coffee were also more likely to be previous or current smokers, consume higher levels of alcohol, and have high cholestrol. Despite this, they were less likely to have chronic conditions such as diabetes, cirrhosis of the liver, gallstones, or poptic ulcers.

    Researchers took those factors into account when trying to establish the factors that coffee itself played, and determined that coffee drinkers were 50% less likely to develop hepatocellular carcinoma. Other potential confounding factors included that coffee drinkers tended to be older, were more likely to be male, and tended to come from less deprived areas and have higher education levels.

    Dr Úna McMenamin, researcher from the Centre for Public Health at Queen’s University Belfast and co-author of the study said: "This is one of the first studies to investigate the risk of digestive cancers according to different types of coffee and we found that the risk of HCC was just as low in people who drank mostly instant coffee, the type most commonly drank in the UK. We need much more research to determine the possible biological reasons behind this association."

    Source: Written based on press release

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