According to the results of a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Japanese researchers have reported that liver cancer was less frequent in coffee drinkers than in abstainers and this reduction included patients at high and low risk for developing liver cancer.
Liver cancer is one of the most frequent cancers in the world, although the incidence in the US is relatively low. Chronic hepatitis B and C infections are the most important causes of liver cancer and these infections are reported to cause 90% of all cases of liver cancer in Japan. Chronic hepatitis C infections can be treated with interferon and anti-viral agents, which may lower the incidence of liver cancer. These authors stated that there have been significant decreases in the incidence of liver cancer in Japan and Brazil without changes in the incidence of hepatitis C and B infections. These authors sought to determine if increased coffee drinking was associated with a decreased incidence of liver cancer.
The authors examined coffee drinking habits in 90,452 middle aged and elderly Japanese. There were 334 cases of liver cancer in this population. They reported that “subjects who drank coffee almost every day had a 51% lower liver cancer risk than those who almost never drank coffee.” These authors also presented data that showed that the higher the intake of coffee, the lower the risk of liver cancer. They also reported that coffee drinking lowered the risk of liver cancer in individuals with hepatitis C, with a trend toward lowering the risk in individuals with hepatitis B, but this was not statistically significant. These effects persisted after adjustment for alcohol and tobacco intake.
Reference: Inoue M, Yoshimi I, Sobue T, et al. Influence of coffee drinking on subsequent risk of hepatocellular carcinoma: A prospective study in Japan. Journal of the National Cancer Institute. 2005;97:293-300.
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