Drinking coffee could undo alcohol’s damage to liver

Chuck Bednar for redOrbit.com – @BednarChuck
Consuming three alcoholic beverages per day is enough to cause liver cancer, but regularly drinking coffee could offset the effects of the disease, a team of scientists affiliated with the World Cancer Research Fund International revealed last week in a new report.
coffee liver cancer
As part of the organization’s ongoing “continuous update project” program, which analyzes global research of how factors such as nutrition, physical activity and weight affect cancer risk and survival, the report set to identify factors that increase and decrease that risk.
Blame it on the aflatoxins
The scientists reviewed 34 studies from around the world involving more than eight million men and women and 24,600 cases of liver cancer. Among the findings were that being overweight or obese was a cause of liver cancer, as were inappropriately-stored foods that are contaminated by aflatoxins, a substance produced by a fungus that contaminates such items.
Aflatoxins, the authors of the new report explained, are generally an issue related to foods from warmer parts of the world, especially developing countries. Foods that may be affected by these substance are cereals, spices, peanuts, pistachios, chillies, black pepper, dried fruit and figs.
[STORY: Coffee drinkers have cleaner arteries]
Also, as Dr. Anne McTiernan, an epidemiologist at Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center told The Columbus Dispatch, the study also provided “the clearest indication to date of how many drinks actually cause liver cancer.” She and her colleagues found that consuming over 45 grams a day of alcohol, or about three drinks, is a “convincing cause” of liver cancer.
And here’s the part about coffee
The study also found that drinking at least one cup of coffee per day actually decreased the risk that a person will develop liver cancer. However, the London-based group said that additional research was required to determine exactly how much and what type of coffee a person should be consuming before any concrete scientific advice is offered related to this discovery.
“Mechanisms that support a protective effect of coffee on liver cancer relate largely to studies in animals, although some human studies contribute to the evidence,” the authors wrote, according to UPI. “Both coffee and coffee extracts have also been shown to reduce the expression of genes  involved in inflammation, and the effects appear to be most pronounced in the liver.”
[STORY: The science behind a great cup of coffee: Mold toxins]
In a blog post discussing the findings of the research, Ricardo Uauy, a professor of public health nutrition at the University of Chile and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, as well as one of the scientists involved in the project, explained that compounds in the caffeinated beverage triggers the body’s defenses and could reduce inflammation.
Furthermore, it may prevent damage to DNA, increase the capacity for DNA to repair itself and improve our sensitivity to insulin, which protects against type-2 diabetes and obesity, he added. He also reiterated that there were many unanswered questions surrounding the findings.
“For example, we don’t know how many cups should be consumed and how regularly, what effect adding milk and/or sugar has, and whether the coffee drinking reported in the research was caffeinated or decaffeinated, instant or filter,” Uauy wrote.
“We also need to ensure that there are no harmful effects for other health conditions before offering advice,” he added. “But it’s a future area of research World Cancer Research Fund International is interested in, especially as its report on womb (endometrial) cancer shows strong evidence that coffee consumption also reduces the risk of womb cancer.”

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