October 2013

Coffee Linked to Lower Liver Cancer Risk

A new study suggests that drinking coffee may lower the risk of developing liver cancer.

Coffee is a popular source of caffeine. However, it also contains many other components that are believed to have health benefits, such as lowering blood sugar levels. These components include chlorogenic acid, quinides, lignans, and trigonelline. Studies suggest that caffeinated coffee consumption may increase blood pressure and potentially increase the risk of heart disease. However, these results were not found to be true of decaffeinated coffee, and some trials found that chlorogenic acid may actually lower blood pressure. Researchers believe that the differing effects of roasted and raw coffee are due to a compound called hydroxyhydroquinone (HHQ), which is created from the roasting process and may block the beneficial effects of chlorogenic acid on blood pressure.

In a recent study, researchers conducted a comprehensive literature search for studies evaluating the association between coffee consumption and liver cancer or hepatocellular carcinoma. Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the most common form of primary liver cancer in both children and adults. It starts in the hepatocytes, the main type of liver cell. Sixteen studies were ultimately identified for inclusion.

The researchers found that from 16 studies reporting 3,153 HCC cases, the risk for developing the cancer was 40 percent lower in people who drank any coffee when compared to those who drank no coffee. Low coffee consumption was linked to a 28 percent reduced risk; while high coffee consumption was linked to a 66 percent reduced risk. The authors noted that the relationship between coffee and liver risk was consistent even when adjusting for various factors such as alcohol consumption and sex.

The authors concluded that drinking coffee may reduce the risk for liver cancer; however, further research is warranted as this association may be the result of people with liver diseases reducing their coffee intake. Well-designed clinical trials are needed.

For more information about integrative therapies for liver cancer, please visit Natural Standard's Comparative Effectiveness Database.

For more information about coffee, please visit Natural Standard's Foods, Herbs & Supplements Database.

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  1. Bravi F, Bosetti C, Tavani A, et al. Coffee Reduces Risk for Hepatocellular Carcinoma: An Updated Meta-analysis. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2013 Nov;11(11):1413-1421.e1. 
  2. Natural Standard: The Authority on Integrative Medicine. 

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