Brushing aside the side effects of caffeine, drinking coffee may reduce cirrhosis or liver damage from food and alcohol, said a new study by researchers at Southampton University in the United Kingdom.
Analyzing data of more than 430,000 participants, researchers found that drinking two additional cups of coffee daily has resulted in lowering the risk of developing cirrhosis by 44%. Cirrhosis is potentially fatal, without any cure.
Lead author Oliver Kennedy said, “It is significant that the risk of developing cirrhosis may be reduced by consumption of coffee, a cheap, ubiquitous and well-tolerated beverage.”
Cirrhosis is the cause of over one million deaths wordwide annually and it is usually caused by hepatitis infections, excessive alcohol consumption, immune disorders, and fatty liver disease, besides associated with obesity and diabetes.
Kennedy and colleagues did a pooled analysis of average coffee consumption across earlier studies to see how much adding two additional cups each day might influence the odds of liver disease. They studied a pooled 1,990 patients with cirrhosis.
In 8 out of 9 studies analyzed, increasing coffee intake by two more cups daily resulted in a significant reduction in the risk of cirrhosis. Barring one, the risk of cirrhosis continued to decline as daily cups of coffee increased in number.
Compared to no coffee intake patients, those taking one cup a day was tied to a 22% lower risk of cirrhosis and with 2 cups it dropped by 43%, while it declined 57% for three cups and 65% with four cups daily.
However, in one study, it was revealed that only filtered coffee gave these benefits while in boiled coffee, the results were absent. While it is not clear as yet about the positive benefits of coffee on cirhhosis, the researchers caution against over-intake. “Coffee is a complex mixture containing hundreds of chemical compounds, and it is not known which of these is responsible,” Kennedy said.
The study was published in the journal Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics.
According to the WHO, excessive alcohol drinking is the most common cause of cirrhosis worldwide. Most studies assessing the prevalence of alcohol abuse as a risk factor for alcoholic cirrhosis focus on total annual amount drunk per person and not on related other drinks like coffee.
According to WHO’s “Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health”, around six percent of global deaths are caused by drinking alcohol, the majority from alcoholic cirrhosis – scarring of the liver as a result of continuous, long-term liver damage. Half of all cases of cirrhosis are caused by alcohol.