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3 Drinks Give You Liver Cancer, But Coffee Protects

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Three alcoholic drinks a day can raise your risk of liver cancer, a new review finds. Idaho Press-Tribune via AP file

Researchers looking at the causes of liver cancer say they’ve narrowed down just how much alcohol you have to drink to risk giving yourself the disease: three drinks a day.

But coffee seems clearly to protect people from liver cancer, which killed 746,000 people globally in 2012.

Other risks, detailed by the American Institute for Cancer Research and the World Cancer Research Fund, include obesity and eating food contaminated with fungal poisons called aflatoxins, including cereal, spices, peanuts and chillies.

“There is strong evidence that consuming approximately three or more alcoholic drinks a day is a cause of liver cancer,” the groups say in a joint report in liver cancer released on Wednesday.

“There is strong evidence that being overweight or obese is a cause of liver cancer."

“There is strong evidence that being overweight or obese is a cause of liver cancer,” they add.

For the report, a committee of experts analyzed 34 studies involving 8.2 million people and more than 24,500 cases of liver cancer.

"This is the first time there's been such a clear signal from a rigorous systematic review on the links between obesity increasing risk of liver cancer and coffee decreasing risk," said Stephen Hursting, a researcher at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, who took part in the study.

It's also the first review to quantify just how much alcohol it takes the raise the risk.

The AICR says if all Americans stayed at a healthy weight and avoided alcohol, it would reduce the U.S. burden of liver cancer by 30 percent, or 10,700 cases a year.

"We're looking at a tsunami of obesity-related cancer coming.”

"The evidence on obesity and cancer is only getting stronger," said Hursting. "We're looking at a tsunami of obesity-related cancer coming.”

Obesity is also linked to breast cancer, pancreatic cancer, ovarian cancer and endometrial cancer, among others.

And by the way, drinking two alcoholic drinks a day isn’t really safe, either, the AICR says. Drinking two alcoholic drinks daily raises the risk of breast and esophageal cancer. Women should stick to one drink a day and men to no more than two, the group recommends.