Drinking More Coffee May Help Prevent Alcohol-Related Cirrhosis
February 20, 2016
Upping your coffee intake may help reduce your chances of developing alcohol-related cirrhosis, according to a review done by the journal Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics of multiple existing studies.
Drinking just two more cups of coffee every day may lower the risk of developing the liver condition by 44%, according to researchers who analyzed nine studies that examined the relationship between coffee consumption and the risk of cirrhosis.
More than 430,000 participants were a part of the nine studies. In eight of the nine studies examined, researchers found increasing coffee consumption by two cups per day was “associated with a statistically significant reduction in the risk of cirrhosis.” The review, published January 25, is the first meta-analysis to show the potential protective properties of coffee.
Cirrhosis is a condition that deteriorates the liver, replacing healthy tissue with scar tissue that blocks blood flow. Common causes for the liver disorder are chronic hepatitis infections, excessive alcohol consumption, immune diseases, obesity and diabetes. And the damaging condition can be fatal, according to the National Institution of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK).
However, Dr. Hillel Tobias, a liver specialist and chairman of the American Liver Foundation’s National Medical Advisory Committee, says the possible preventative effects of coffee are not new. A 2015 reported cited a potential link between coffee’s health benefits and cirrhosis preventions.
“The problem is that most professionals in the liver community find this hard to accept,” Tobias told CNN. “The physiological and biochemical basis has not been established and some experimental evidence is needed. Right now, many of these studies are based on historical information provided by patients.”
Tobias said the possibility of patient subjectivity and statistical errors makes him leery of such studies claiming to have a simple fix for cirrhosis.
It should also be noted that some of the studies that were reviewed did not account for other risk factors for cirrhosis like obesity and diabetes, Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics says in its report.
It’s important to also keep in mind that the amount of alcohol-related liver damage varies from person to person, Tobias explained. For example, women can’t metabolize alcohol as quickly as men. Maintaining a healthy eating and drinking habits is a good way to prevent some cases of cirrhosis, according to Tobias.
In the United States, alcoholism is the second-most common cause of cirrhosis. Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to fat accumulation and inflammation of the liver, according to NIDDK.
It’s recommended that moderate drinking for men is two drinks per day and one drink per day for women, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.