Research: Three alcoholic drinks a day can cause liver cancer; coffee reduces risk

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Researchers have for the first time established that drinking just three alcoholic drinks can cause liver cancer, while having coffee reduced risk of the disease.

The findings have been uncovered by World Cancer Research Fund International’s Continuous Update Project (CUP) wherein 34 studies were reviewed covering 8.2 million people of whom more than 24,500 had liver cancer. Previous studies have shown alcohol having strong links with a range of cancers, including liver. However, the latest research is the first time ever when a direct relation has been established between liver cancer and alcohol consumption.

Director of World Cancer Research Fund UK, Amanda McLean, revealed that until now it was unclear as to how much alcohol consumption leads to liver cancer. “But the research reviewed in this report is strong enough, for the first time, to be more specific about this”, McLean said.

Liver is now the 10th cancer that has been linked with overweight and obesity and as many as 61 per cent of people in the UK are overweight or obese. Researchers also revealed that liver is one of the most deadly cancers with just a 12 per cent survival rate after five years.

Globally around 782,000 cases were diagnosed in 2012, 4,703 cases in the UK and researchers estimate that nearly a quarter (24 per cent) of cases diagnosed in the UK could be prevented, if people kept a healthy weight and did not drink.

The research also found strong evidence that drinking coffee can reduce the risk of the disease. It follows research we published in 2013 showing that coffee reduces the risk of womb cancer.

Dr Kate Allen, Executive Director of Science and Public Affairs at World Cancer Research Fund International, said that there is a rich set of new evidence that has emerged from this latest CUP report with findings around alcohol, obesity and coffee of particular interest.

“The evidence about the relationship between diet, nutrition, physical activity and cancer is becoming well established. We hope that these new findings will inform the debate about possible public health implications and policy responses”, said Dr Allen.