Studies examine coffee drinking and risk of liver and colorectal cancers

Two new studies in the February 16 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute examine the effects of coffee consumption on the incidence of liver and colorectal cancers. One study found that drinking coffee daily is associated with a decreased risk of liver cancer, while the other found no association between drinking coffee or tea and the risk of colorectal cancer.

Coffee consumption is common throughout the world, but the benefits or risks of the drink are not completely known. Evidence suggests that coffee consumption may be associated with a decreased risk of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), a type of liver cancer. The evidence for any association with colorectal cancer is less clear.

In the first study, Manami Inoue, M.D., Ph.D., of the National Cancer Center in Tokyo, and colleagues conducted a population-based cohort study of middle-aged and elderly Japanese subjects from the Japan Public Health Center-Based Prospective Study.

People who drank coffee on a daily or almost daily basis had about half the risk of HCC compared with those who never drank coffee. In the population studied, the rate of liver cancer among those who never drank coffee was 547.2 cases per 100,000 people over 10 years, but among daily coffee drinkers the rate was 214.6 cases per 100,000 people. In addition, the risk of HCC decreased with an increase in the amount of coffee consumed each day.

However, the authors caution that because decaffeinated coffee is rarely consumed in Japan, and therefore no distinction was made between caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee, it cannot be determined if caffeine is responsible for the decreased risk of HCC. In addition, the results need to be confirmed among people who are infected with hepatitis, the authors say.

"The present cohort analysis confirmed a statistically significant inverse association between habitual coffee drinking and HCC," Inoue and colleagues write. "Further studies are wa

Contact: Sarah L. Zielinski
Journal of the National Cancer Institute

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