We Asked an Expert Whether Drinking Coffee Actually Prevents Liver Cancer

New research from the University of Southampton and University of Edinburgh suggests that drinking one cup of Joe a day cuts the risk of liver cancer by 20 percent.
May 25, 2017, 12:22pm
Photo via Flickr user Mandy Jansen

Coffee can be a lifesaver. When you're hanging on a weekday, hiding behind a pair of sunglasses and a large flat white is a true godsend. Or if you spent the night binge-watching Netflix, regular espressos are as essential as knowing who got booted out on the latest RuPaul's Drag Race.

As well as providing a much-needed shot of caffeine, scientists now say that a cup of Joe could good for your liver, too.

According to a new study carried out by researchers at the University of Southampton and the University of Edinburgh, drinking coffee could help prevent hepatocellular cancer (HCC), the most common type of primary liver cancer. Published in the BMJ Open journal, the results showed that people who drank one cup of coffee a day reduced their risk of developing the cancer by 20 percent, compared to those that didn't drink coffee.

Researchers also found that the more cups of coffee people drank a day, the lower their risk of cancer was. Analysing data from 26 studies that explore the link between coffee consumption and risk of liver cancer, they calculated that drinking two cups of coffee reduced the risk of liver cancer by 35 percent. And knocking back five a day halved the risk.

Commenting on the findings in a press release, Professor Peter Hayes, hepatology specialist at the University of Edinburgh and co-author of the study, said that the research demonstrates just one od coffee's many benefits. He said: "We have shown that coffee reduces cirrhosis and also liver cancer in a dose-dependent manner. Coffee has also been reported to reduce the risk of death from many other causes. Our research adds to the evidence that, in moderation, coffee can be a wonderful natural medicine."

To find out whether the study's claims are as good as they sound, MUNCHIES reached out to Andrew Langsford, chief executive of the British Liver Trust.

Langsford told us: "The British Liver Trust recently published a report that substantiated coffee's role in good liver health. This new study adds to this growing body of evidence and shows that drinking coffee can reduce your risk of developing liver cancer."

Other health charities, however, aren't quite so convinced by Southampton and Edinburgh's research. Cancer Research UK's health officer Clare Hyde told us: "Although this research suggests drinking coffee reduces liver cancer risk, we cannot say for sure whether this is a real link, as there may be other things that coffee drinkers have in common that can also affect their chances of developing the disease."

Both British Liver Trust and Cancer Research UK emphasised that the most effective way of reducing the risk of liver cancer is to not smoke and cut down on alcohol consumption.

Still, next time you drop £3 on a latte, at least you can console yourself with the thought that you might be doing more for your body than just soothing a sore head.