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Coffee linked to lower risk of liver cancer, cirrhosis

Now you can say you're protecting your liver with each cup of coffee.
Now you can say you're protecting your liver with each cup of coffee.
Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images

Angelenos who consider coffee as one of their major food groups can add one more scientific study to their “amazing things about coffee” or “no, coffee won’t kill me” lists.

One study was presented in early April 2014 at the American Association for Cancer Research annual meeting in San Diego, and the results might be all you need to perk up in your chair, or send non-coffee-drinkers to their nearest café.

The study investigated nearly 180,000 men and women of various ethnicities, recruited between 1993 and 1996. Subjects were followed for up to 18 years, as they reported coffee consumption, dietary and lifestyle factors and incidence of hepatocellular carcinoma, or HCC, the most common form of liver cancer.

The study found individuals who consumed one to three cups of coffee per day were 29 percent less likely to develop HCC. Extreme coffee drinkers, or those who have four or more cups per day, were 42 percent less likely to receive an HCC diagnosis. The researchers concluded that increased coffee consumption may reduce the risk of developing HCC, across various U.S. ethnicities.

HCC makes up 85 percent of liver cancers and kills 16,000 people per year in the United States. For those individuals at high risk for HCC, the researchers encourage daily coffee consumption.

While this study, funded by the National Cancer Institute, did not investigate reasons why coffee and the liver are linked, the research team intends to examine this area further.

Another study conducted by researchers in Singapore suggests coffee reduces the risk of cirrhosis by reversing the undesirable effects of alcohol consumption. Cirrhosis, which is scarring of the liver, is caused by alcohol abuse or viral hepatitis, and chronic liver disease is the 11th cause of death in the United States.

The study, published in the Journal of Hepatology, investigated consumption of coffee, alcohol, black tea, green tea and soft drinks and the risk of death from cirrhosis. Nearly 63,000 Chinese subjects between ages 45 and 74 served as subjects. 114 subjects died from liver cirrhosis during the study.

Researchers discovered that participants who drank two or more cups of coffee a day had a mortality risk 66 percent less than non-coffee drinkers. However, the researchers pointed out this lower risk is not connected to viral hepatitis-related cirrhosis.

If you plan on a night of drinking alcohol, don’t forget to follow up with your morning cup of joe.