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Coffee May Help Reduce Risk of Cirrhosis

Coffee May Help Reduce Risk of Cirrhosis
Flickr/Alper Cugun

Studies have already shown that coffee helps prevent fatty liver disease and liver cancer. And now there's even more good news brewing. A recent study conducted by researchers in Singapore shows that coffee could help to reverse the adverse effects of alcohol by actually decreasing the risk of cirrhosis.

The results of the study show that just two cups of coffee a day could help lower the risk of death from cirrhosis - scarring of the liver - by up to 66 percent. Chronic liver disease and cirrhosis is the 11th cause of death in the United States, killing nearly 32,000 people in 2010, according to Medical News Today  The World Health Organization says the condition is responsible for 1.3% of total deaths worldwide. (Cirrhosis is almost exclusively caused by either alcohol abuse or viral hepatitis.) 

"Prior evidence suggests that coffee may reduce liver damage in patients with chronic liver disease," Woon-Puay Koh, researcher from the Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School Singapore and the National University of Singapore, told Medical News Today.

The latest study tested the effects of consuming coffee, alcohol, black tea, green tea and soft drinks on the risk of mortality from cirrhosis. Researchers recruited 63,275 Chinese participants between the ages of 45 and 74 and living in Singapore. All provided information about their dietary habits, lifestyle choices and general medical history. In-person interviews also were conducted between 1993 and 1998. All patients were followed for an average of 15 years.

During the study period, 24% of the participants died, with liver cirrhosis responsible for the death of 114 individuals. The mean age of death was 67. Data showed that those who drank at least 20 grams of ethanol (alcohol) daily had a greater risk of cirrhosis mortality compared to non-drinkers. But coffee intake was associated with a lower risk of death from cirrhosis not related to viral hepatitis.

Overall, participants who drank two or more cups of coffee each day had a mortality risk that was 66% lower than that of non-daily coffee drinkers. The researchers note that drinking coffee was not linked with viral hepatitis B–related cirrhosis mortality, however.

"Our study is the first to demonstrate a difference between the effects of coffee on non-viral and viral hepatitis–related cirrhosis mortality," Koh said.

The authors say their study "provides further impetus to evaluate coffee as a potential therapeutic agent in patients with cirrhosis."

The study was published in the journal Hepatology, our very favorite coffee-break reading material. 


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