Coffee, Even Decaf, May Promote Liver Health, Study Finds

Could a couple cups of coffee a day reduce your chances of dying from liver disease by nearly half? People who drank coffee on a daily basis, whether caffeinated or not, were less likely to develop chronic liver disease and chronic fatty liver disease, as well as a reduced chance of dying from liver disease, according to a new study published in BMC Public Health on June 22.

This is good news for the majority of us: The National Coffee Association estimates that 62 percent of Americans drink coffee every day, with the average coffee consumer consuming slightly more than three cups per day. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, chronic liver disease affects 4.5 million individuals in the United States.

According to Oliver Kennedy, PhD, a professor at the University of Southampton in England and the study’s principal author, the lowered risk was found across several coffee varieties, including instant, ground, and decaffeinated. He believes that because of these advantages, coffee might be a readily accessible preventative therapy for chronic liver disease.

The greatest benefit came from drinking more coffee (up to 4 cups).
Researchers tracked 494,585 people who had submitted initial information on how much coffee they consumed, using data from the UK Biobank, a nonprofit health database. The patients were 58 years old on average, 54.5 percent of whom were female, and 94 percent of whom were white.

People were tracked for a median of 10.7 years to see if they developed chronic liver disease or other liver problems.

Coffee drinkers made up 78 percent (384,818) of the group, with an average of two cups per day; non-coffee drinkers made up 22 percent (109,767) of the group. Of the coffee consumers, 55% drank instant coffee, 23% drank ground coffee (including espresso), and 19% drank decaf.

There were 3,600 instances of chronic liver disease over the research period, with 301 fatalities. There were 5,439 instances of chronic liver disease, commonly known as fatty liver disease, and 184 cases of hepatocellular carcinoma, a kind of liver cancer.

To isolate the effect of coffee on liver disease, researchers took into account a number of variables, including smoking status, diabetes, BMI, ethnicity, alcohol intake, and the Townsend deprivation score, which measures socioeconomic level. According on their zip code, typical levels of employment, home and automobile ownership, and household overcrowding, the UK Biobank awarded each participant a Townsend deprivation score.

Coffee users had a 21% lower risk of chronic liver disease, a 20% lower risk of chronic or fatty liver disease, and a 49% lower risk of mortality from chronic liver disease when compared to non-coffee drinkers.

When compared to not drinking coffee, any form of coffee was linked to a lower risk of developing and dying from chronic liver disease, with the highest benefit found in those who drank ground coffee and consumed three to four cups per day.

The findings back up previous research on the benefits of coffee for liver health.
“This research backs up what other studies have revealed about the advantages of coffee for liver health,” says Omar Massoud, MD, PhD, chief of the Cleveland Clinic’s hepatology division. The new study does not include Dr. Massoud.

People who drank two to three cups of coffee per day had a 38 percent lower risk of liver cancer death and a 46 percent lower risk of chronic liver disease death, according to a previous study published in Gastroenterology; those figures rose to 41 percent and 71 percent, respectively, in people who drank four or more cups per day.

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