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What are the benefits of your morning cup of coffee?

How many Americans rely on that first hot cup of coffee to start off their morning? Whether you love the ritual of this routine, or really don’t feel like you can take on the day without an initial jolt of caffeine, it’s hard to deny the comfort this beverage can provide. In part because of our evident dependence on this liquid, a growing number of studies have been published regarding the benefits and potential downsides of coffee consumption – with a particular focus on the dangers of excess. However, recent research has indicated that java may have protective properties as well.

According to a press release from the American Gastroenterological Association, a team of Italian researchers have found that drinking coffee three times a day could help reduce the likelihood of developing a form of liver cancer.

“Our research confirms past claims that coffee is good for your health, and particularly the liver,” said Dr. Carlo La Vecchia of the Università degli Studi di Milan. “The favorable effect of coffee on liver cancer might be mediated by coffee’s proven prevention of diabetes, a known risk factor for the disease, or for its beneficial effects on cirrhosis and liver enzymes.”

Of course, given that researchers seem to be going back and forth on the pros and cons of coffee, it is still advisable to speak to a doctor or nutritionist before going overboard with this caffeinated drink, to ensure that this habit doesn’t have a negative effect on brain health, heart conditions or other important functions. Keep in mind, too, that the cream, sugar and other additions could well counter any potential benefits derived from coffee itself.