Higher coffee intake, lower liver cancer risk

June 27th, 2008 - 5:42 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, June 27 (IANS) There’s some cheerful news for coffee addicts. The more they drink, lower the risk of liver cancer. A large, prospective population-based study has borne out an inverse relationship between coffee consumption and liver cancer risk.

Researchers led by Gang Hu at the University of Helsinki set out to examine the link between coffee consumption and serum gamma-glutamyltransferase (GGT), with the risk of liver cancer.

Finns drink more coffee per head than the Japanese, Americans, Italians, and other Europeans, so Hu and colleagues studied 60,323 participants aged between 25 and 74 years who were cancer-free.

They were included in seven independent cross-sectional population surveys conducted between 1972 and 2002 and followed up through June 2006.

Participants completed a questionnaire about their medical history, socio-economic factors and dietary and lifestyle habits. For a subset of participants, clinical data was available, including serum levels of GGT. Data on subsequent cancer diagnoses was collected from the countrywide Finnish Cancer Registry.

Based on their answers to “how many cups of coffee do you drink daily,” participants were divided into five categories: 0-1 cup, 2-3 cups, 4-5 cups, 6-7 cups, and 8 or more cups daily. After a median follow-up period of 19.3 years, 128 participants were diagnosed with liver cancer.

The researchers noted that multivariable hazards ratio of liver cancer dropped for each group that drank more coffee. It fell from 1.00 to 0.66, 0.44, 0.38 to 0.32, respectively.

“The biological mechanisms behind the association of coffee consumption with the risk of liver cancer are not known,” the authors point out.

They also found that high levels of serum GGT were associated with an increased risk of liver cancer, reports Eurekalert.

These findings will appear in the July issue of Hepatology.

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