Coffee Consumption Appears To Reduce Liver Cirrhosis.

A cup of coffee and coffee beans in a sack. Copyright: marcomayer / 123RF Stock Photo
Cup of coffee. Copyright: marcomayer / 123RF Stock Photo

Liver cirrhosis is an extremely nasty condition to be living with and very often leads to liver failure and cancer. It is a condition brought on by infection from viruses such as hepatitis C, various poisons and toxins and extreme alcoholism. The appearance of cirrhosis in the liver is the scarring of once healthy tissue. It is estimated that nearly 633 thousand adults in the USA which is about 0.3% of that population have this condition and that 69% don’t even know they suffer it. It is responsible for a million deaths annually.

The benefits of coffee as well as its unwanted side effects are often in the news but in this case there is another positive message being created for drinking it. Researchers at the Faculty of Medicine in the University of Southampton have shown a strong association with drinking coffee and reducing the risk of liver cirrhosis amongst other risk factors being reduced (Kennedy et al., 2016).  

The research team analysed nine long-term studies published before July 2015 which looked at the coffee drinking habits of nearly half a million people of both sexes from six countries. It appeared that individuals drinking two extra cups of coffee on a daily basis had a 44% less chance to develop cirrhosis. It builds on research evidence from an article concerning the liver that suggested a similar amount of coffee when drunk may also halve the risk of dying from the condition.

Coffee contains a number of biologically important active ingredients including caffeine and chlorogenic acid, but also various lignans and glycosides. It also contains kahweol and cafestol which are two diterpenes with suspected anti-cancer activity (Cavin et al., 2002) and which may protect the liver from fibrosis. As well as supporting energy claims such actives are important anti-inflammatory agents and antioxidants. Coffee also possesses compounds that block hepatitis B and C viruses. There is also the evidence relating to its reduction of certain forms of diabetes.

The researchers believe that the risk reduction from coffee consumption is better than a number of conventional medicines used to prevent the disease. Coffee is also safer and better tolerated than some of these medicines.

The research team believe further evidence from more extensive clinical trials would help explain further how coffee is benefiting patients and sound judgement can be passed on recommending the beverage.

The study was published in the science journal Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics and includes a highly informative discussion of the mechanisms by which coffee may alleviate various conditions other than cirrhosis.

References 

Cavin, C., Holzhaeuser, D., Scharf, G., Constable, A., Huber, W.W., Schilter, B. (2002) Food Chem. Toxicol. 40(8) pp. 1155-63.

Kennedy, O. J., Roderick, P., Buchanan, R., Fallowfield, J. A., Hayes, P. C. and Parkes, J. (2016), Systematic review with meta-analysis: coffee consumption and the risk of cirrhosis. Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics, 43 pp. 562–574. doi: 10.1111/apt.13523http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/apt.13523/epdf
 

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