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A research team from Queen’s University Belfast has found that coffee drinkers have a lower risk of the most common type of liver cancer, hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). The results were presented at the National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) conference in Glasgow this week. The results were also published in the British Journal of Cancer earlier this year.

Coffee Drinkers Are Consuming Tonnes of Coffee

Coffee drinkers have been enjoying this popular drink for centuries. Previous research has shown there are many health benefits of drinking coffee, which may be due to its high levels of antioxidants.

There are millions of people all over the world who love coffee. According to Euromonitor Research, coffee is one of the most commonly consumed beverages worldwide. Here are some of their incredible coffee statistics:

  • The world consumed over 7 million tonnes of coffee in 2016
  • The top three countries in terms of coffee consumption are Brazil (1.1 million tonnes), the USA (949 thousand tonnes) and  Indonesia (682 thousand tonnes)
  • Brazil overtook the US in total coffee consumption in 2014
  • Global volume growcoffee drinkers [longevity live]th of coffee pods fell to single digits for the first time in recent history in 2015 and continues to decelerate. It is predicted to be just 5% annually by 2021.
  • Starbucks was the leading specialist coffee shop brand in Chile in 2016.
  • Consumption of coffee in Morocco is increasing. This is despite tea being the traditional national favorite in Morocco, thanks to growing Westernization. 

Ready To Drink Coffee And Fresh Coffee

EuroMonitor also found that Japan, Taiwan, and the USA had the largest per capita consumption of RTD (ready to drink) coffee in 2016.   Other insights include:

  • Venezuela, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, and Chile had the highest fresh coffee sales in Latin America in 2016.
  • Folgers, Starbucks, and Maxwell House were the top 3 coffee brands in North America in 2016.
  • Nespresso, Nescafe, and Lavazza were the top 3 coffee brands in Western Europe in 2016. While in Eastern Europe, Nescafe, Jacobs, and Tchibo dominate.
  • Asia Pacific is a key region for RTD coffee globally, with over 80% of global sales.
  • North America is the world’s second most important region for RTD coffee. While the USD2.9 billion in annual sales are still a long way from Japan’s, the region will lead the world in growth by 2021.

Largest Study of Middle-Aged People

The Queens University study took place in the UK over 7.5 years. It looked at the coffee-drinking habits of 471,779 participants in the UK Biobank. The study is one of the largest studies of middle-aged individuals in the world.

coffee drinkers [longevity live]

The research team’s overall findings suggested a reduced risk of hepatocellular carcinoma, the most common form of liver cancer in coffee drinkers, compared to those who did not drink coffee.

Dr. Úna McMenamin, a researcher from the Centre for Public Health at Queen’s University Belfast and co-author of the study, said: “This is one of the first studies to investigate the risk of digestive cancers according to different types of coffee. We found that the risk of HCC was just as low in people who drank mostly instant coffee, the type most commonly consumed in the UK.

Coffee Drinking Is A Habit That’s Good For You

McMenamin adds, “We need more research to determine the possible biological reasons behind this association.”

Drinkers were more likely to be older, male, from less deprived areas, and have higher education levels. They were also more likely to be previous or current smokers. Coffee drinkers consume higher levels of alcohol and have high cholesterol. Coffee drinkers were also less likely to have chronic conditions such as diabetes, cirrhosis, gallstones, and peptic ulcers compared with non-coffee drinkers. After taking these factors into account, the researchers found that coffee drinkers were 50% less likely to develop HCC compared to those who did not drink coffee.

Coffee Lowers Risk, but Stopping Smoking Is Better

Lead author Kim Tu Tran, a postgraduate research student from the Centre for Public Health at Queen’s University said: “People with a coffee-drinking habit can find keeping that habit going is good for their health.  That is because coffee contains antioxidants and caffeine, which may protect against cancer.

“However, drinking coffee is not as protective against liver cancer as stopping smoking, cutting down on alcohol, or losing weight.” The rates of liver cancer have risen by 60% in the UK in the last decade.

Bottom Line On Drinking Coffee

The World Cancer Research Fund’s report also supports these findings.  They concluded that there is ‘probable’ evidence to suggest that coffee drinking lowers the risk of liver cancer.

The Queen’s University researchers also investigated other digestive cancers, such as bowel and stomach, but found no consistent links to coffee drinking.


  1. Coffee consumption by type and risk of digestive cancer: a large prospective cohort study. Authors: Helen G. Coleman Úna C. McMenamin, Chris R. Cardwell & Kim Tu Tran
  1. Euromonitor Research. Ranked: Top 25 Coffee-Drinking Countries – Fresh vs Instant. Euromonitor Int. Available at Niseteo, T., Komes, D., Belščak-Cvitanović, A., Horžić, D. & Budeč, M. Bioactive composition and antioxidant potential of different commonly consumed coffee brews affected by their preparation technique and milk addition. Food Chem. 134, 1870–1877 (2012).

Access to UK Biobank data is funded by Cancer Research UK. Lead author Kim Tu Tran is supported by the Vietnam International Education Cooperation Department.


Gisèle Wertheim Aymes

Gisèle Wertheim Aymes

Gisèle is the owner of the Longevity brand. She is a seasoned media professional and autodidactic. Her goal? Sharing the joy with others of living in good health, while living beyond 100, You can follow her @giselewaymes on Twitter and Instagram or read her Linked-In profile for full bio details.


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  • Lois Carol Wessels says:

    Very interesting, I enjoy my coffee but have reduced consumption. I also eat an apple with my first glass of water each morning.

  • David says:

    Add some raw Cacao Powder (not regular cocoa powder) and your coffee will be even more healthy. Raw cacao is one of the top superfoods on the planet, very high in antioxidants…

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