Monday, 29 February 2016


Coffee apart from being a popular early morning beverage for work executives (popular served as an espresso), is also well known as a hangover remedy after drinking alcoholic cocktails. New studies now show that coffee might be good not only for hangovers but also to help reduce liver damage caused by excessive alcohol intake.

Researchers at the University of Southampton conducted an analysis of nine studies totaling more than 430,000 participants and linked drinking 2 extra cups of coffee each day to a 44% reduced risk of liver cirrhosis.

Liver cirrhosis is a disease primarily caused by heavy drinking of alcohol. Other causes of liver cirrhosis include hepatitis, immune diseases, accumulated fat in the liver due to diabetes and obesity. Liver cirrhosis kills at least one million people worldwide every year.

According to Dr Oliver kennedy of University of Southampton..."Cirrhosis is potentially fatal and there is no cure as such. Therefore it is significant that the risk of developing cirrhosis may be reduced by consumption of coffee, a cheap, ubiquitous and well tolerated beverage"

The researchers 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.

Combined, the study included 1,990 patients with cirrhosis.

In eight of the nine studies analysed, increasing coffee consumption by two cups a day was associated with significant reduction in the risk of cirrhosis.

In all but one study, the risk of cirrhosis continued to decline as daily cups of coffee increased.

Compared to no coffee consumption, researchers estimated one a cup a day is tied to a 22% lower risk of cirrhosis. With two cups, the risk dropped to by 43%, while it declined 57% for three cups and 65% with four cups.

However, as interesting as this might be, results from the research still do leave some unresolved questions such as:

  • In what form could the coffee be most effective as one study, for example found a stronger link between coffee consumption and reduced cirrhosis risk with filtered coffee than with boiled coffee.
  • The study accounted mostly for liver cirrhosis caused by excessive alcohol consumption but not liver cirrhosis caused by other potent risk factors such as obesity, hepatitis, fatty liver and diabetes.
  • Is it really coffee or is it the brewing method or the type of coffee bean used? For now its not clear as according to Dr Oliver kennedy...''Coffee is a complex mixture containing hundreds of chemical substances and it is unknown which of these is responsible for protecting the liver". 

What is however clear is that there is evidence linking coffee to reduced risk off liver cirrhosis, but there is still a lot more research needed to clarify how and what in coffee produces this desirable action on the liver.

The best way to prevent liver cirrhosis for now still lies with maintaining a healthy lifestyle, reduce excessive alcohol consumption and maintain a healthy body weight.

(1) Reuters.            
(2) University of Southampton.

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