In the News: Coffee Cuts Liver Cancer Risk
If you needed more evidence that coffee is good for your health, we've got it. This time, researchers have studied more than 30,000 subjects over the course of nearly two decades, and have seen a link between coffee consumption and a lowered risk of liver cancer. This comes on the heels of another study that aggregated 34 studies on liver cancer, totaling 8.2 million subjects. Two findings stand out from these studies, one less surprising than the other. Unsurprisingly, those who drank three or more alcoholic beverages a day had a greater statistical risk of getting liver cancer. Somewhat more surprising: drinking just one cup of coffee per day could mitigate that cancer risk by up to 29%, a result that held true even when controlling for other risk factors.
Given that liver cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths, that would seem to be good news. However, that good news comes with some major caveats. First of all, these findings -- presented before the American Association of Cancer Researchers -- are preliminary. They have not yet been peer reviewed. And the research thus far shows only a correlative effect, not a causative one.
We've saved the biggest cautionary note for last: scientists aren't quite sure exactly how coffee works to reduce the risk of liver cancer. There's some speculation that it's the result of coffee's anti-inflammatory properties, which are strongly evident in the liver. It's also possible that one or more of the hundreds of organic compounds in coffee is giving the body's natural defenses a boost.
Like the research around coffee, the scientific consensus regarding alcohol can seem terribly uneven. Science has found that beer and wine both contain compounds that contribute to our well-being, not to mention that a drink with a meal or as a nightcap can be a nice way to unwind after a long day. However, there's one thing that science, history, and a wealth of anecdotal evidence all point to: the harmful effects of overindulging in booze cause other problems that negate any health benefits that your beverage of choice may have.
While the jury's still out as to how much harm can be mitigated by drinking coffee, keeping your alcohol intake in check may be the biggest favor you can do yourself. A cup or two (or more) of coffee while you're at it likely wouldn't hurt either.