The more cups of coffee a person drank, the lower the risk for developing hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), the most common type of liver cancer, according to results presented at the AACR Annual Meeting 2014, help in April in San Diego.

This study found that compared with those who consumed fewer than six cups of coffee per week, those who consumed one to three cups per day had a 29 percent reduction in their risk for developing HCC, and those who consumed four or more cups per day had a 42 percent reduction in their risk for developing HCC.

, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Preventive Medicine at the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center in Los Angeles, said, “Coffee intake has been suggested to lower the risk for HCC in epidemiologic studies, but these studies were conducted outside of the United States. We wanted to examine whether coffee consumption is associated with risk for developing HCC in multiethnic U.S. populations.

“Data from a diverse group of men and women from various ethnicities followed up for 18 years showed a statistically significant dose-response relationship between increasing coffee consumption and lowered HCC risk,” added Setiawan. “Now we can add HCC to the list of medical ailments, such as Parkinson’s disease, type 2 diabetes, and stroke, that may be prevented by coffee intake. Daily coffee consumption should be encouraged in individuals who are at high risk for HCC.”

Setiawan and colleagues conducted a prospective analysis of 179,890 men and women, which included 45,641 Caucasians, 29,486 African Americans, 13,118 Native Hawaiians, 52,548 Japanese Americans, and 39,097 Latinos. The researchers collected data on coffee consumption and other dietary and lifestyle factors upon study entry and followed them for up to 18 years.

Of the study participants, 498 developed HCC: 67 Caucasians, 73 African Americans, 34 Native Hawaiians, 171 Japanese Americans, and 153 Latinos.

The researchers found that the relationship between coffee consumption and lowered risk for HCC was independent of the study participants’ ethnicity, gender, body mass index, smoking status, alcohol intake, and diabetes status.

They had information on hepatitis B and C infections for 152 participants who developed HCC and 460 participants who did not develop HCC, and found that the effect of coffee consumption on HCC risk was also independent of hepatitis infections. Data, however, fell short of statistical significance.

“The roles of specific coffee components that are actually protective against HCC remain open to discussion,” said Setiawan. Her team will next examine whether coffee consumption is associated with incidence and mortality associated with various chronic liver diseases across ethnic groups.

This study was funded by the National Cancer Institute.