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Drinking More Coffee May Undo Liver Damage From Booze

If you’re worried about what alcohol may have done to your liver, you might want to consider drinking coffee to reverse the damage, according to a review of studies.

By utilizing data from nine previously published studies that included more than 430,000 participants, researchers found drinking two additional cups of coffee a day decreased the risk of developing liver cirrhosis by 44 percent, Reuters reported from the journal Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics.

“Cirrhosis is potentially fatal and there is no cure as such,” said lead study author Dr. Oliver Kennedy of Southampton University in the UK, according to Reuters.

“Therefore, it is significant that the risk of developing cirrhosis may be reduced by consumption of coffee, a cheap, ubiquitous and well-tolerated beverage,” Kennedy added in an email to Reuters.

Cirrhosis of the liver occurs with a build-up of scar tissue that inhibits the liver from properly functioning, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIH). The main causes of the condition are heavy alcohol use for a prolonged period of time, chronic hepatitis C or B, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).

Kennedy and his fellow researchers conducted a pooled analysis of average coffee consumption from 1,990 patients with cirrhosis who participated in earlier studies to see if two additional cups per day would influence the odds of liver disease, reported Reuters.

Their analysis found that in eight of the nine studies, increasing coffee consumption by two cups a day significantly reduced the risk of cirrhosis.

By drinking one cup of coffee a day, a 22 percent lower risk of cirrhosis occurred, but with two cups, the risk dropped by 43 percent.

With four cups per day, the risk declined up to 65 percent.

There is still more research to be done, such as finding why in one study the results differed when filtered or boiled coffee was used. Filtered coffee showed a greater reduction in cirrhosis risk.

The studies focused on alcohol-related cirrhosis, so more work needs to be done on risk factors like obesity and diabetes.

Kennedy warned that the research does not give people a license to drink as much coffee as they want because it is not clear just how it promotes a healthier liver, or if the type of coffee makes a difference.

“Coffee is a complex mixture containing hundreds of chemical compounds, and it is unknown which of these is responsible for protecting the liver,” Kennedy said.

Nearly 32,000 people die from cirrhosis in the United States each year, making it the twelve leading cause of death in the country, according to the NIH.

Sources: Reuters, NIH / Photo credit: QueenstownRafing/Flickr

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