It’s fair to say that people are always keen to hear of any potential health benefits associated with food and drinks they already adore. That’s why red wine is rarely out of the news, with even the slightest indication that it might not be bad for you pounced upon.

Coffee is another beloved beverage that commands column inches but unlike red wine, which to be clear is really not good for you, it could actually provide a host of benefits.

The latest study on the health effects of coffee has found that it can reduce the risk of liver cancer. Researchers from the University of Southampton and the University of Edinburgh analysed data from 26 studies with more than 2.25 million participants. They found that drinking just one cup of coffee a day reduced the risk of hepatocellular cancer (HCC) by 20%.

HCC is the most common form of cancer that originates in the liver. It is far more likely to develop in men than women and becomes more common as people age.

The study also found that the more coffee people drank, the more they reduced the risk of HCC. Two cups a day cut the risk by 35% and five by 50%. You might think that five cups a day would involve drinking a bone-shaking amount of caffeine, but the research found that even decaffeinated coffee helped reduce the risk of HCC, although the protective effect of decaf was “smaller and less certain” than regular coffee.

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Previous studies hailing the protective benefits of coffee against all manner of diseases have mostly focused on caffeine intake, so it’s certainly an interesting revelation that decaf has a similar protective effect.

This was an observational study and so does not prove that drinking coffee reduces the risk of HCC, but it adds to a growing body of evidence that partaking in a couple of cups daily is more likely to do you good than harm.

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“We have shown that coffee reduces cirrhosis and also liver cancer in a dose-dependent manner,” said Professor Peter Hayes of the University of Edinburgh.

“Coffee has also been reported to reduce the risk of death from many other causes. Our research adds to the evidence that, in moderation, coffee can be a wonderful natural medicine.”