Last week's disturbing coffee story wasn't even cold when we got hit with a jolt of positive java news: Four cups or more a day could be good for your liver.

That actually applies to four cups of tea, too. Good news for you Brits (and Anglophiles).

Researchers from the Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School and the Duke University School of Medicine have found that consuming the caffeine equivalent of four cups of coffee or tea a day may prevent and protect against the progression of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), according to a study published in the journal Hepatology.

The team used cell culture and mice as models for the effects of caffeine on the liver disease, Medical News Today reports.

People with NAFLD have a buildup of extra fat in liver cells that is not caused by alcohol. According to the American Liver Foundation, up to a quarter of Americans have the disease. There is no treatment, only prevention through diet and exercise.

The study shows that caffeine reduces fat content in the liver.

Paul Yen, associate professor at Duke NUS, says, “This is the first detailed study of the mechanism for caffeine action on lipids in liver, and the results are very interesting. Coffee and tea are so commonly consumed, and the notion that they may be therapeutic, especially since they have a reputation for being 'bad' for health, is especially enlightening.”

Last week, we reported that U.S. researchers claimed that drinking four or more cups of coffee a day may lead to a risk of early death. (But with a squeaky clean liver!)

However, earlier this year researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health found a lower suicide risk among those who drank between two and four cups of coffee a day.

This latest study, the researchers say, may lead to the development of caffeine-like drugs that have therapeutic effects on the liver but without caffeine's negative side effects.

No word on how Diet Coke factors into this.

Want more Squid Ink? Follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook, and follow Samantha Bonar at @samanthabonar.

LA Weekly