Queen's researchers find drinking coffee cuts risk of developing liver cancer by 50%
Coffee drinkers are half as likely to develop the most common type of liver cancer, researchers in Belfast have found.
A team from Queen's University found there was a 50% reduced risk of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in coffee drinkers compared to those who did not drink coffee.
The study took place in the UK over seven years and looked at the coffee-drinking habits of 471,779 participants in the UK Biobank, one of the largest studies of middle-aged individuals in the world.
The results were presented at the National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) conference in Glasgow this week and were published in a major journal.
Lead author Kim Tu Tran, postgraduate research student from the Centre for Public Health at Queen's, said yesterday that people who enjoy drinking coffee "could find keeping that habit going is good for their health".
"That is because coffee contains antioxidants and caffeine, which may protect against cancer," she added.
"However, drinking coffee is not as protective against liver cancer as stopping smoking, cutting down on alcohol or losing weight."
Researchers also investigated other digestive cancers, such as bowel and stomach, but found no consistent links with coffee drinking.
More than three-quarters of participants reported drinking coffee and compared to those who did not consume the beverage, drinkers were more likely to be older, male, from less deprived areas and have higher education levels.
Coffee drinkers were also more likely to be previous or current smokers, consume higher levels of alcohol, have high cholesterol and were less likely to have chronic conditions such as diabetes and cirrhosis - compared to non-coffee consumers.
Overall, researchers found coffee drinkers were 50% less likely to develop HCC compared to those who did not drink coffee.
Dr Una McMenamin, a QUB researcher, said "much more research" is required to "determine the possible biological reasons behind this association".