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Liver Cancer Less Common with More Coffee Drinking

Coffee consumption demonstrates an inverse, stepwise relationship with liver cancer, while elevated GGT is associated with increased risk

FRIDAY, July 4 (HealthDay News) -- High levels of coffee consumption demonstrated an inverse association with primary liver cancer, while elevated levels of gamma-glutamyltransferase (GGT) increased risk in a large prospective population-based study, according to an article published in the July issue of Hepatology.

Gang Hu, M.D., Ph.D., of the National Public Health Institute in Helsinki, Finland, and colleagues examined the associations of coffee consumption and serum GGT with the risk of primary liver cancer in a cohort of more than 60,000 Finnish participants aged 25 to 74 years and free of any cancer at baseline.

Median follow-up of participants was 19.3 years and 128 primary liver cancers were diagnosed between 1972 and 2002, the researchers report. Multivariable-adjusted hazard ratios for primary liver cancer declined as more coffee was consumed indicating decreased association with cancer (drinking 0-1, 2-3, 4-5, 6-7 and 8 or more cups of coffee associated with hazard ratios of 1.00, 0.66, 0.44, 0.38 and 0.32 respectively). Participants in the highest quartile of GGT levels were three times more likely to develop primary liver cancer than participants in the lowest quartile, the investigators found.

In an accompanying editorial, Carlo La Vecchia of the Universita degli Studi di Milano in Italy, points out that "whether coffee drinking has an additional role in liver cancer prevention remains open to discussion, but in any case any such role would be limited -- if not negligible -- as compared to that achievable through control of hepatitis B virus, hepatitis C virus and alcohol consumption, which are the major recognized risk factors for liver cancer."

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