Coffee May Protect Against Alcohol's Horrible Effects

Photographed by Eva K. Salvi.
Late in the day, when your natural energy reserves are running low, it can be really hard to resist yet another quick cup of Joe. But, no need to feel guilty — new findings suggest that extra cup might be protecting your liver from happy hours to come, reports The Daily Mail

The Continuous Update Project's latest study, published recently by the World Cancer Research Fund International and the American Institute for Cancer Research, delves into research surrounding the prevalence and potential causes of liver cancer. For this report, they compiled 34 previously published studies. This included data collected from over 8 million participants and 24,600 cancer cases.

Their results found strong evidence for several things acting as either a cause of or protection against liver cancer. As expected, the investigators saw that chronic excessive drinking of alcohol was associated with an increased risk for liver cancer; they recommend two drinks per day for men and just one for women

However, blessedly, the researchers also saw that drinking coffee was associated with a significantly decreased risk for liver cancer. Specifically, they found the risk went down for every day people had one cup. Although the trend was similar for men and women, it was only statistically significant for men. And, compared to other cancers, liver cancer is pretty rare in the general population — especially for women. Still, the authors conclude that higher coffee consumption is probably helping to lower what cancer risk you do have.

The authors also suggest that the mechanism here may stem from the effects of coffee that have previously been observed in animals. These include repairing DNA, mediating the production of toxin-fighting proteins, and regulating genetic inflammatory markers. 

Other research has suggested that coffee may also help protect against heart disease. And, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee recently said that up to five cups per day may have other health benefits, such as reducing the risk of Type 2 Diabetes. So, despite past studies that have focused on the downsides of coffee, these are a few reasons to feel good about that morning cup. 
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