A new study shows that drinking more cups of coffee can help minimize the risks of liver cancer. The study adds liver cancer to the growing list of diseases that coffee can help prevent.

The study was conducted by researchers from the University of Southern California's (USC) Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center. The scientists presented their findings at the American Association for Cancer Research's annual meeting.

"Coffee intake has been suggested to lower the risk for HCC in epidemiologic studies, but these studies were conducted outside of the United States," said USC Department of Preventive Medicine assistant professor V. Wendy Setiawan, "We wanted to examine whether coffee consumption is associated with risk for developing HCC in multiethnic U.S. populations.

To conduct the study, the researchers analyzed data from 179,890 individuals. The sample group included individuals from varying racial backgrounds. 39,097 were of Latin American descent, 52,548 were of Japanese descent, 13,118 were of Hawaiian descent, 29,486 were African Americans and 45,641 were Caucasian. The analysis indicated that compared to individuals who drank less than six cups every week, people who drank one to three cups of coffee everyday showed a 29 percent reduction in the risk of developing hepatocellular carcinoma. This type of liver cancer is the most common and can cause death within a period of three to six months. Since the study is yet to be published in proper peer-reviewed journal, the researchers say that the findings are considered preliminary for now. 

"Data from a diverse group of men and women from various ethnicities followed up for 18 years showed a statistically significant dose-response relationship between increasing coffee consumption and lowered HCC risk," added Setiawan. "Now we can add HCC to the list of medical ailments, such as Parkinson's disease, type 2 diabetes, and stroke, that may be prevented by coffee intake. Daily coffee consumption should be encouraged in individuals who are at high risk for HCC."

According to the study, the cancer reducing benefits of increased coffee intake did not depend on ethnicity. Moreover, drinking more coffee was also effective regardless of other factors such as diabetes, the consumption of alcohol, smoking and gender.

"The roles of specific coffee components that are actually protective against HCC remain open to discussion," said Setiawan. Her team will next examine whether coffee consumption is associated with incidence and mortality associated with various chronic liver diseases across ethnic groups.

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