Coffee may protect your liver, new study suggests

Increasing coffee intake may protect your liver and help prevent liver-related deaths, according to a recent report published in Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics. A group of researchers in Australia looked at data from previous studies involving coffee and liver disease and found that drinking more than two cups of coffee a day may help protect against deaths related to liver disease.

“Increasing per capita coffee consumption to > 2 cups per day on a population level has the potential to avert hundreds of thousands of liver‐related deaths annually if the impact of coffee on liver‐related mortality is confirmed in clinical trials,” wrote Sarah Gardner of the liver transplant unit at The Austin Hospital in Australia in the study.

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Gardner and her colleagues referred to previous study findings that said, “Compared to noncoffee drinkers, those who drank 2‐3 cups daily had a 38% reduction in HCC [hepatocellular carcinoma] risk and a 46% reduction in risk of death from chronic liver disease (CLD). If individuals drank four or more cups daily the risk reduction for HCC was 41% and for death from CLD was 71%. Other cohort studies have reported risk reductions of similar magnitude.”

The Australian team of researchers decided to estimate the potential impact that increased coffee consumption would have on global liver-related mortality. They looked at the effect of consuming more than two cups and more than four cups/day per capita would have on liver-related deaths. The researchers used the Global Burden of Disease 2016 dataset for 194 countries to model the impact using risk ratios from a published study

Increasing coffee intake may protect your liver and help prevent liver-related deaths, according to a recent report. (iStock)

Gardner and colleagues found that if all countries had increased per capita coffee intake from less than two to more than two cups of coffee per day, the predicted number of liver-related deaths would have been 630,947 in 2016, with 452,861 deaths prevented. If the per capita coffee consumed was greater than four cups per day, the predicted number of liver-related deaths in 2016 would have been 360,523 with 723,287 deaths averted, according to the study. Globally, the total number of liver-related deaths in 2016 was an estimated 1,240,201, the authors said.

“Coffee clearly helps your liver,” Dr. Douglas Dieterich, a hepatologist at Mount Sinai Division of Liver Medicine and Gastroenterology, told Fox News. “This study demonstrates the impact on a larger scale of previous studies[ that demonstrated benefits of coffee].”

Dieterich also said he recommends coffee to some of his patients, noting it can help with certain liver diseases.

“Coffee is also good for Primary Biliary cholangitis (PBC),” an autoimmune liver disease that affects the bile ducts and could lead to cirrhosis, he said.

“The mechanism by which coffee offers protection from liver disease has not been clearly demonstrated, but it appears that caffeine is not the protective chemical. Of the many compounds in coffee, diterpenes and chlorogenic acids are the most studied in liver disease,” the study authors stated.

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“High coffee consumption has been correlated with improved insulin sensitivity, suggesting that coffee may exert protective effects through attenuating insulin‐induced hepatic fibrosis and/or NAFLD as a co‐factor in liver disease progression,” they added.

Based on their data, the researchers said coffee is an easily accessible and relatively safe health intervention that may reduce liver‐related mortality globally. That said, the Australian research team said further research is needed to confirm the benefits of coffee on liver‐related mortality.