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Coffee May be Good for Liver Health, Research Suggests

— July 1, 2021

Drinking coffee can help fend off liver disease.

Many people rely on their trusted cup of coffee to jumpstart their day, and now there’s another reason to drink up other than that welcome caffeine boost.  New research examining the coffee-drinking habits of more than 494,000 people in the U.K. Biobank, a biomedical database, monitoring their liver health over 11 years, found “drinking three to four cups of coffee a day may reduce your risk of liver cancer and other alcohol-related liver diseases,” according to the study published int he peer-reviewed journal BMC Public Health.

Participants ranged from “40 to 69 years old, with 384,818 saying they were avid coffee drinkers, and 109,767 saying they were not.”  People who drank ground caffeinated or decaffeinated coffee saw the most benefits.  Coffee drinkers were “21% less likely to develop chronic liver disease, 20% less likely to develop chronic or fatty liver disease, and 49% less likely to die of chronic liver disease than non-coffee drinkers,” according to the study.

Coffee May be Good for Liver Health, Research Suggests
Photo by Jessica Lewis from Pexels

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease affects up to “25% of people in the United States,” according to the American Liver Foundation.  Most people have no symptoms, although some may experience fluctuations in weight, fatigue, and pain.  Liver cirrhosis can eventually occur.  The disease is most common in those who are obese, have diabetes, high cholesterol, or high triglycerides.  Doctors can only treat the underlying conditions in order to help patients reverse the disease and regain health.

“Liver cancer is the sixth most common cancer worldwide,” according to the World Cancer Research Fund.  “The rate of liver cancer since 1980 has more than doubled,” according to American Cancer Society.  Many times, it is associated with alcohol use disorder, but obesity and type 2 diabetes are also on the rise, making it all that more prevalent.

The authors of the study note, “Chronic liver disease (CLD) is a growing cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide, particularly in low to middle-income countries with high disease burden and limited treatment availability.  Coffee consumption has been linked with lower rates of CLD, but little is known about the effects of different coffee types, which vary in chemical composition.  This study aimed to investigate associations of coffee consumption, including decaffeinated, instant and ground coffee, with chronic liver disease outcomes.”  They concluded, “The maximum benefit was found in people who drank three to four cups a day; any higher consumption didn’t show additional benefits.”

Of the findings, “It confirms in a large U.K. cohort that coffee drinking is protective against severe liver disease,” said Professor Paul Roderick, a co-author of the study from the University of Southampton.

Vanessa Hebditch, of the British Liver Trust, said the “results further prove the theory that coffee is good for liver health.”  She added, “However, it’s important that people improve their liver health not just by drinking coffee, but by also cutting down on alcohol and keeping to a healthy weight by exercising and eating well.”


Drinking 3 to 4 cups of coffee a day reduces risk of liver cancer, study suggests

All coffee types decrease the risk of adverse clinical outcomes in chronic liver disease: a UK Biobank study

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