This content was last updated on November 2, 2020
Liver cancer is the sixth most common cancer in the world. Men are 3 times more likely to be diagnosed than women but the risk increases with age for both.
For Liver Cancer Awareness Month, the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) is highlighting several critical lifestyle choices that impact the risk of liver cancer. There is strong evidence that greater body fat, consumption of alcoholic drinks, and eating foods contaminated with aflatoxins increase the risk of liver cancer, according to AICR’s recently released Diet and Cancer Report, which provides a rigorous analysis of the global evidence on lifestyle factors and cancer prevention.
However, there is also good news. The report found strong evidence that drinking coffee decreases the risk of liver cancer. Overall the studies showed that people who drank one cup per day had a 14% lower risk of liver cancer than people who did not drink coffee at all.
How can coffee lower your risk for liver cancer?
- Drinking coffee has been linked to a decreased risk for liver cancer, though it is not yet possible to pinpoint what amount affords optimal protection.
- Coffee contains a variety of compounds that can block carcinogens, reduce cancer cell growth and kill cancer cells.
- Coffee is consumed in a wide variety of ways (caffeinated, decaf; black, w/milk, sugar; drip, press) and more research is needed to determine whether preparation affects potency.
“There have been hundreds of studies on coffee and cancer and the overwhelming evidence suggests that coffee reduces cancer risk. For those who like coffee, this must be one of the easiest ways to reduce your risk of a very serious type of cancer. Just be careful not to undo the potential benefits by adding too much cream or sugar because each higher category of BMI (per 5kg/m2) increases liver cancer risk by 30 percent,” says, Dr. Nigel Brockton, AICR’s Director of Research.
What is the evidence on reducing the risk of liver cancer via lifestyle factors?
There is also emerging evidence that being physically active and consuming fish may decrease the risk of liver cancer. Get all relevant information in our Third Expert Report, Diet, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Cancer: A Global Perspective, which reviewed decades of scientific evidence to develop the most reliable cancer prevention advice currently available, summarized in 10 Cancer Prevention Recommendations.
“The report found strong evidence that drinking alcohol and having excess body fat both increase risk for liver cancer, so lifestyle does play an important role, says Alice Bender, MS, RDN, AICR’s Director of Nutrition Programs. “Drinking coffee is one way to lower your risk, but following all of our Cancer Prevention Recommendations will provide even more protection.”
The evidence shows that modifying what people eat and drink, being more physically active, having a healthy body weight and other health-related choices can prevent nearly half of all cancer diagnoses.