Middle-aged coffee drinkers have half the odds of developing a common liver cancer than their peers who don’t partake, say researchers from Queen’s University Belfast, UK.

The study looked at the coffee-drinking habits, including coffee type, for more than 470,000 participants in the UK Biobank, one of the world’s largest studies of middle-aged individuals. Coffee drinkers were 50% less likely to develop hepatocellular carcinoma, the most common form of liver cancer, compared to those who did not drink coffee. This was true for individuals who drank instant coffee as well as other types, the researchers reported.

“People with a coffee-drinking habit could find keeping that habit going is good for their health. That is because coffee contains antioxidants and caffeine, which may protect against cancer,” concluded Kim Tu Tran, Ph.D. But coffee is not a cancer cure-all, she said. “[D]rinking coffee is not as protective against liver cancer as stopping smoking, cutting down on alcohol or losing weight.”

Liver cancer rates have risen by 60% in the UK during the last decade. In the United States, liver cancer is the fifth most common cause of cancer death in men and the seventh among women, according to the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

The results were presented last week at the National Cancer Research Institute conference in Glasgow and published in the British Journal of Cancer.