Coffee May Protect Against Liver Disease in Heavy Drinkers, Study Says

Coffee May Protect Against Liver Disease in Heavy Drinkers, Study Says

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But the benefits of coffee may only be for male drinkers

There's never been a stronger case for guzzling coffee to beat a hangover — a new study from Finland shows that coffee may have protective effects against liver disease in heavy drinkers.

The study, published in the journal Alcohol and Alcoholism, examined more than 18,000 Finnish adults and their coffee and liquor consumption, as well as their blood levels of the liver enzyme gamma-glutamyl transferase, or GGT. (My Health News Daily points out that drinking can cause higher levels of GGT in the blood stream, and those with alcoholic liver disease have higher levels of GGT.) The male drinkers in the study were found to have GGT levels three times higher than men who don't drink; however, those male drinkers who also drank coffee had 50 percent lower levels of GGT. The researchers believe it may be that caffeine lowers levels of GGT in the blood stream.

Some caveats to the study? For one, the benefits of coffee and lower GGT levels didn't apply to female drinkers (sorry, ladies). And the researchers noted that they're not sure whether other factors, such as smoking, older age, and weight, played a role in lower GGT levels. And of course, higher GGT levels don't necessarily cause liver disease. So, take your cup of coffee with a grain of salt (or sugar, we guess) — but at least a cup of coffee will make you happy!

Drinking coffee may slow progression of liver disease

(HealthDay)—Regular coffee consumption seems to delay disease progression in alcoholic liver disease (ALD) and primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) patients with end-stage liver disease (ESLD) and increase long-term survival following liver transplantation, according to a study published online Feb. 15 in the Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

Kilian Friedrich, M.D., from the University Hospital of Heidelberg in Germany, and colleagues assessed coffee consumption habits in 379 patients with ESLD awaiting liver transplantation and 260 patients after liver transplantation.

The researchers found that 195 patients with ESLD consumed coffee on a daily basis, while 184 patients did not. Actuarial survival was lessened (P = 0.041) in non-coffee drinkers (40.4 months) compared to coffee drinkers (54.9 months). The survival of patients with ALD (P = 0.020) and PSC (P = 0.017) was increased with coffee intake, but unaffected in patients with chronic viral hepatitis (P = 0.517) or other liver disease entities (P = 0.652). Coffee consumption of PSC and ALD patients remained as an independent risk factor (odds ratio, 1.94 P = 0.013) in multivariate analysis, along with Model for End-Stage Liver Disease score (odds ratio, 1.13 P = 0.000). Long-term survival was also improved in coffee drinkers following liver transplantation (61.8 months) versus non-drinkers (52.3 months P = 0.001).

"Coffee consumption delayed disease progression in ALD and PSC patients with ESLD and increased long-term survival after liver transplantation," the authors write.

Coffee and cigarettes may protect against liver disease, study says

Liver transplantation. PSC is the main cause for liver transplantations in Scandinavia. Credit: Ram Gupta, Oslo University Hospital.

Coffee and cigarette smoking may protect against the rare liver disease Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis (PSC), study shows.

In a new study from Norway published in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, both coffee consumption and cigarette smoking are shown to potentially protect against primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC). This is a chronic liver disease caused by chronic inflammation of the bile ducts.

The findings are of great interest against a backdrop of increasing knowledge on coffee as a possible protective agent in other liver diseases.

The cross-sectional study was conducted by researchers at the Norwegian PSC Research Center based at Oslo University Hospital and the University of Oslo.

The study was conducted using a questionnaire about environmental exposures, and included 240 PSC patients and 245 controls.

The study shows showed that the PSC patients had lower coffee consumption both currently and in the early adulthood, suggesting that coffee consumption could protect against the development of the disease. PSC patients who drank coffee, however, had lower levels of liver enzymes in the blood, thus suggesting a beneficial effect in the liver.

Regarding cigarette smoking, only 20% of the patients reported ever daily cigarette smoking, compared with 43% of the healthy controls. In addition, cigarette smokers acquired the disease on average 10 years later than non-smokers. Taken together, these observations confirm and strengthen previous observations of smoking as a possible protective factor in PSC.

While PSC is not a common disease, it is a severe condition affecting mostly young adults (30-40 years), and with a high risk of associated cancer of the bile ducts.

Few treatment options are available and PSC is one of the most important reasons for liver transplantation. While the possible protective effect of smoking against PSC seems rather unique to this particular liver disease, coffee consumption has been shown to protect against multiple other liver conditions including liver cirrhosis and liver cancer – and now for the first time also against PSC.

Little is known about nongenetic risk factors for primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC), except a possible protective effect of smoking. We investigated the relationship between environmental risk factors and susceptibility to PSC.

A questionnaire was distributed to patients with PSC, recruited from Oslo University Hospital Rikshospitalet in Norway through 2011, and randomly chosen individuals from the Norwegian Bone Marrow Donor Registry (control subjects). Data were analyzed from 240 patients with PSC and 245 control subjects, matched for gender and age.

A lower proportion of patients with PSC were daily coffee drinkers than control subjects, both currently (76% vs 86% odds ratio [OR], 0.52 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.32–0.82 P = .006) and at the age of 18 years (35% vs 49% OR, 0.58 95% CI, 0.40–0.83 P = .003). The associations were mainly attributed to differences observed in men. Twenty percent of the patients were ever (current or former) daily smokers compared with 43% of control subjects (OR, 0.33 95% CI, 0.22–0.50 P

Cafestol and kahweol: Filtering out cholesterol boosters

Coffee drinkers concerned about cholesterol weren't happy about some early study results showing that coffee seems to increase cholesterol levels, and "bad" LDL cholesterol levels in particular. But upon closer inspection, the bad news turned out to be not so bad, because the cholesterol-raising effect seems to be limited to coffee that hasn't been filtered, which includes Turkish coffee, coffee brewed in a French press, and the boiled coffee consumed in Scandinavia.

The cholesterol-raising ingredients in coffee are oily substances called diterpenes, and the two main types in coffee are cafestol (pronounced CAF-es-tol) and kahweol (pronounced KAH-we-awl). They are present either as oily droplets or in the grounds floating in the coffee. But a paper filter traps most of the cafestol and kahweol, so coffee that's been filtered probably has little, if any, effect on cholesterol levels.

The best evidence is for paper filters, but an interesting study published in 2011 showed that filtering methods used in Singapore (the so-called sock method, which uses a cotton-nylon cloth) and India (metal mesh) were also effective at trapping cafestol.

Espresso contains more cafestol and kahweol than paper-filtered coffee, but because it is consumed in smaller amounts, it may not have much of an effect on people's LDL level.

There is a twist to this aspect of the coffee story, because cafestol and kahweol may also have some health benefits that are lost when they're filtered out. The research is in the preliminary stages, but cafestol and kahweol could have some anticancer effects and be good for the liver.

16 thoughts on &ldquo Coffee and Your Liver &rdquo

Hello…..I just had a Liver Transplant in Halifax on Nov 6 th 2017.
Would I be a candidate for participating in on going studies with a fee $ ?
Thank you.

Hi Scott, in order to best answer your question, please contact our National Support Line at 1 (800) 563-5483 Monday to Friday from 9 AM to 5 PM EST, or email us at [email protected] Thanks!

I have NFLD. My liver aches at various times. Why?
Will I ever get rid of fatty liver with diet and exercise?

To best answer your questions about NAFLD, please reach out to our National Support Line at 1 (800) 563-5483 Monday to Friday from 9 AM to 5 PM EST or anytime at [email protected]

Is it just as helpful to drink de-caff? Swiss water process, of course!

In the studies that have been reviewed and included in this article, researchers believe the improvements that coffee provides on the liver is due to antioxidants. Therefore, since caffeine would be unrelated, decaf could certainly be a great option for your liver.

For more info, feel free to contact our National Support Line at 1 (800) 563-5483 Monday to Friday from 9 AM to 5 PM EST or anytime at [email protected]

Hi, Several years ago the Liver Clinic at Toronto Western Hospital recommended coffee as well. I completed 2 sessions of interferon therapy with a 1 year break in between.

Question : the articles on coffee speak of BLACK COFFEE, HOWEVER, i love my lattes.
Will this prove to be as beneficial as having an espresso ?

Thanks for your great comment, we’re happy to hear you’ve had success with your treatment.

The studies mention black coffee for a couple of reasons. For one, it is the coffee itself that is being studied for its effectiveness. Therefore if the study looked at those that consumed coffee with milk, cream, sugar, flavouring etc., it could beg the question that any effects proven could’ve come from any of the other additives.

Finally, the Canadian Liver Foundation encourages the drinking of black coffee as an abundance of cream and sugar (as some coffee-drinkers like to indulge in) is not always best for your liver, which will convert the excess of these ingredients into fat. That is not to say cream and sugar are absolutely off the table. Simply, it is best to keep them to a minimum or eliminate them for the best effect of coffee.

We hope that helps! If you have any other questions, please contact us at 1 (800) 563-5483 Monday to Friday from 9 AM to 5 PM EST at email us at [email protected]

Very interesting article. I’m male 57, 182lbs and recently quit drinking because of a persistent ache in my RUQ, swollen ankles and 2 episodes of gout. Does instant coffee have any benefits?

Thanks for your comment. Yes, instant coffee does have benefits for your liver. Coffee is a great choice to protect against liver fibrosis or the scarring of the liver (also known as cirrhosis in its advanced stages). However, if you choose to incorporate coffee in to your diet, as with any new change to lifestyle, please consult your doctor for guidance.

I have NAFLD, along with high blood pressure (hypertension)
Is coffee a good option for me?

Thank you for your great question! The only person who can say what is good and bad for you is the person who knows your specific conditions and medical history—your doctor! We want to strongly encourage you to talk to them before going forward.

In more general terms, we can say that, while the reasoning behind coffee’s health benefits remains speculative, researchers believe it may have to do with the beverage’s antioxidant effects. Several research studies have shown that drinking two to three cups of coffee a day may benefit people who have liver disease. Specifically, there is promising evidence that coffee’s curative effects come from studies on NAFLD. The various studies observed dietary factors in patients with NAFLD found an association between drinking coffee and some improvements or “reversals” of NAFLD’s progression.

It is very important to note that, in addition to implementing dietary and lifestyle changes (such as physical activity), drinking coffee may be beneficial in slowing the progression of liver damage in people who have NAFLD. Because researchers are still uncertain about how to interpret these findings, you should still consult your health care provider to see whether coffee should or should not be avoided. Of course, your best pathway to liver health also consists of a healthy diet and regular exercise. Dousing your coffee with lots of cream and sugar can counteract the benefits of this powerful beverage, so use these in moderation or try it black!

Please in my country we have ‘local coffee’ processed here (black). We also have imported Nescafe or roasted and de-caff.
Please which type of coffee is best for liver issues?

With the latest research on coffee use and liver health, the medical literature highlights the use of black coffee with no/limited additives (sugar or dairy). Decaffeinated coffee is made from coffee beans in which 97% of its caffeine is removed. The effects of decaffeinated coffee on liver disease are not well studied compared to the effects of regular coffee on liver health. We suggest you communicate with your health care provider about coffee consumption in conjunction with following a healthy diet and doing regular physical activity. Should you have further questions, please contact our National toll-free line 1-800-563-5483 or by email at [email protected]

I have been recently diagnosed with NASH but it started as NAFLD about year and half ago. I stopped drinking coffee about four years ago and in the last three years my blood tests were showing higher liver enzymes ultimately resulting in the above. I recently had liver biopsy to determine non-viral auto immune Hepatitis. I did start drinking tea once I stopped drinking coffee. There is mention of tea in this article. Does tea really have the same benefits? I don’t want to go on the steroid medication my doctor is recommending and want to try homeopathic remedies first. I will be discussing further with my doctor. However any additional input would be helpful.

With the latest research on coffee and tea use and liver health, there is epidemiological, but also experimental data suggesting that coffee has health benefits on liver enzyme elevations, viral hepatitis, NAFLD, cirrhosis, and liver cancer. The exact mechanism is not very clear, but it is thought that coffee and tea have strong anti-oxidant effects.

Researchers have found that while no direct association was found between either coffee or tea in NAFLD, the effect of coffee on lowering the liver stiffness was significant in both the group with and without liver fat. The researchers therefore concluded that frequent coffee and herbal tea seem to have beneficial effects on preventing liver scarring even before overt liver disease has developed.

We suggest you communicate with your health care provider about tea consumption and any homeopathic remedies in conjunction with following a healthy diet and doing regular physical activity. We also have various educational resources available in online and print copies. If you would like to obtain these educational packages, please contact our National toll-free line 1-800-563-5483

Drinking Coffee Slows Progression Of Liver Disease In Chronic Hepatitis C Sufferers, Study Suggests

Patients with chronic hepatitis C and advanced liver disease who drink three or more cups of coffee per day have a 53% lower risk of liver disease progression than non-coffee drinkers according to a new study led by Neal Freedman, Ph.D., MPH, from the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The study found that patients with hepatitis C-related bridging fibrosis or cirrhosis who did not respond to standard disease treatment benefited from increased coffee intake. An effect on liver disease was not observed in patients who drank black or green tea.

Findings of the study appear in the November issue of Hepatology, a journal published by Wiley-Blackwell on behalf of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases.

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infects approximately 2.2% of the world's population with more than 3 million Americans infected. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cites HCV as the leading cause of liver transplantation in the U.S. and accounts for 8,000 to 10,000 deaths in the country annually. Globally, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates 3 to 4 million persons contract HCV each year with 70% becoming chronic cases that can lead to cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer.

This study included 766 participants enrolled in the Hepatitis C Antiviral Long-Term Treatment against Cirrhosis (HALT-C) trial who had hepatitis C-related bridging fibrosis or cirrhosis and failed to respond to standard treatment of the anti-viral drugs peginterferon and ribavirin. At the onset of the study, HALT-C patients were asked to report their typical frequency of coffee intake and portion size over the past year, using 9 frequency categories ranging from 'never' to 'every day' and 4 categories of portion size (1 cup, 2 cups, 3-4 cups, and 5+ cups). A similar question was asked for black and green tea intake. "This study is the first to address the association between liver disease progression related to hepatitis C and coffee intake," stated Dr. Freedman.

Participants were seen every 3 months during the 3.8-year study period to assess clinical outcomes which included: ascites (abnormal accumulation of fluid in the abdomen), prognosis of chronic liver disease, death related to liver disease, hepatic encephalopathy (brain and nervous system damage), hepatocellular carcinoma (liver cancer), spontaneous bacterial peritonitis, variceal hemorrhage, or increase in fibrosis. Liver biopsies were also taken at 1.5 and 3.5 five years to determine the progression of liver disease.

Results showed that participants who drank 3 or more cups of coffee per day had a relative risk of .47 for reaching one of the clinical outcomes. Researchers did not observe any association between tea intake and liver disease progression, though tea consumption was low in the study. "Given the large number of people affected by HCV it is important to identify modifiable risk factors associated with the progression of liver disease," said Dr. Freedman. "Although we cannot rule out a possible role for other factors that go along with drinking coffee, results from our study suggest that patients with high coffee intake had a lower risk of disease progression." Results from this study should not be generalized to healthier populations cautioned the authors.

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Materials provided by Wiley-Blackwell. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Coffee And Tea Can Reduce The Risk Of Chronic Liver Disease

A study published today in the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) journal Gastroenterology found that people at high risk for liver injury may be able to reduce their risk for developing chronic liver disease significantly by drinking more than two cups of coffee or tea daily. This preventative effect was only seen in people at higher risk for liver disease due to heavy alcohol intake, being overweight or having diabetes or iron overload. This is the first study to take a prospective look at the relationship between coffee and tea consumption and chronic liver disease in the general U.S. population.

"While it is too soon to encourage patients to increase their coffee and tea intake, the findings of our study potentially offer people at high-risk for developing chronic liver disease a practical way to decrease that risk," said Constance E. Ruhl, MD, PhD, who conducted the study with colleague, James E. Everhart, MD, MPH. "In addition, we hope the findings will offer guidance to researchers who are studying liver disease progression."

Chronic liver disease is an ongoing injury to the cells of the liver, resulting in inflammation that lasts longer than six months. Its causes are numerous, including viruses, obesity, alcohol, metabolic or immunologic abnormalities, and side effects from various medications. Chronic liver diseases include cirrhosis, fibrosis and hepatitis. According to the most recent estimates from the National Center for Health Statistics, nearly 28,000 people die of chronic liver disease each year and there are more than 5 million prevalent cases of chronic liver disease and cirrhosis in the United States.

Researchers at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases and Social & Scientific Systems, Inc. conducted an analysis of patients using the first National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES I) and the NHANES I Epidemiologic Follow-Up Study. The study population included 9,849 participants whose coffee and tea intake was evaluated and who were followed for a median of 19 years. In this analysis, coffee and tea intake was measured in cups, ranging from 0 to 16 cups per day with a median of two cups per day. Findings showed that those who consumed more than two cups of coffee or tea per day developed chronic liver disease at half the rate of those who drank less than one cup each day.

Over the last few years, there has been a growing body of evidence that coffee decreases the risk of elevated liver enzymes, cirrhosis and liver cancer. This study provides support for a protective effect of coffee on chronic liver disease and cirrhosis, and extends these findings to the general U.S. population. However, the study does not provide evidence that coffee and tea protect against chronic liver disease from individual causes, such as fatty liver disease or viral hepatitis.

"In the analysis, we determined that caffeine was partly responsible for the protective effect found. We believe that investigations into the mechanism of action of caffeine for protecting the liver and its clinical application are needed," said Dr. Ruhl.

This study was supported by a contract from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease of the National Institutes of Health.

More information on liver disease is available at www.gastro.org.

About the AGA

The American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) is dedicated to the mission of advancing the science and practice of gastroenterology. Founded in 1897, the AGA is the oldest medical-specialty society in the United States. Comprised of two non-profit organizations--the AGA and the AGA Institute--our more than 14,500 members include physicians and scientists who research, diagnose and treat disorders of the gastrointestinal tract and liver. The AGA, a 501(c6) organization, administers all membership and public policy activities, while the AGA Institute, a 501(c3) organization, runs the organization's practice, research and educational programs. On a monthly basis, the AGA Institute publishes two highly respected journals, Gastroenterology and Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology. The organization's annual meeting is Digestive Disease Week®, which is held each May and is the largest international gathering of physicians, researchers and academics in the fields of gastroenterology, hepatology, endoscopy and gastrointestinal surgery.

About Gastroenterology

Gastroenterology, the official journal of the AGA, is the most prominent journal in the subspecialty and is in the top one percent of indexed medical journals internationally. The journal publishes clinical and basic studies of all aspects of the digestive system, including the liver and pancreas, as well as nutrition. The journal is abstracted and indexed in Biological Abstracts, CABS, Chemical Abstracts, Current Contents, Excerpta Medica, Index Medicus, Nutrition Abstracts and Science Citation Index. For more information, visit www.gastrojournal.org.

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Materials provided by American Gastroenterological Association. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Drink Coffee, Protect Your Liver

For years, coffee got blamed for causing cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis, and more. Now doctors realize that those health troubles probably had more to do with coffee drinkers’ cigarette and jelly doughnut habits than their morning cups of Joe. In fact, more studies are now showing that coffee carries several serious health benefits, such as staving off Parkinson’s disease and type 2 diabetes. Researchers have just uncovered another big perk: Coffee can slash your risk of liver cancer by 40 percent.

A team of Italian scientists pooled 16 years’ worth of data on more than 3,100 people to find a direct link between coffee consumption and fewer incidences of liver cancer, the third most common cause of cancer death. Some studies revealed that drinking at least three cups day may lower risk even further, to 50 percent.

Just how does coffee protect the liver? “There are a number of possible mechanisms,” says Neal Freedman, an investigator with the National Cancer Institute. “Coffee is a rich source of antioxidants,” which protect the body against disease-causing free radicals and inflammation. Freedman says coffee also may improve insulin signaling, which could help prevent diabetes, a known risk factor for liver cancer. “Many observational studies have suggested that people who drink coffee may be less likely to get diabetes,” he says. “Having diabetes can increase your risk of developing liver cancer, so coffee drinking potentially protects against liver cancer by reducing your likelihood of diabetes.”

But as with almost everything in life, too much of a good thing can be bad. A recent Mayo Clinic study found that people under age 55 who sipped more than four cups a day were twice as likely as non-coffee drinkers to die early.

“It’s important to remember that coffee contains more than a thousand compounds and has a complex effect on the body,” Freedman says. “Rather than changing your coffee drinking habit based on this or any particular study, discuss your coffee intake with your health-care provider, especially if you have any medical conditions.”

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Risk Of Liver Cancer Reduced By Half, Possibly Due To The Antioxidants

The researchers were able to gather the understanding that coffee drinkers were 50 per cent less likely to develop HCC compared to those who did not drink coffee. The impact of coffee on preventing the onset of liver cancer was because coffee contains antioxidants and caffeine, which may protect against cancer [5] .

Likewise, the findings of the current study are in line with the evidence from the World Cancer Research Fund's report which concluded that there is 'probable' evidence to suggest that coffee drinking lowers the risk of liver cancer [6] .


Researchers from the Erasmus University Medical Centre in the Netherlands gathered data on 2,424 participants for the study.

Lead author Dr Sarwa Darwish Murad said: 'Beyond the liver, coffee has been demonstrated to be inversely associated with overall mortality in the general population.

'We were curious to find out whether coffee consumption would have a similar effect on liver stiffness measurements in individuals without chronic liver disease.'

Due to the cheap drinks' popularity across the world, experts say they have the potential to become important in preventing liver disease (stock)

All of the volunteers had blood samples taken and underwent liver imaging procedures to assess their organ.

In addition, they completed a questionnaire about how often they ate certain foods, including coffee and tea.


Drinking more coffee may help stave off liver cancer, a British study that was published last month suggested.

Researchers found people who drink just one cup of coffee a day are 20 per cent less likely to develop the disease.

Drinking two cups of coffee a day slashed the risk by 35 per cent, while five cups cut the risk in half, the Southampton University study found.

Even decaffeinated coffee can have a protective effect, the research added.

Lead author Dr Oliver Kennedy, from the University of Southampton, said: 'Coffee is widely believed to possess a range of health benefits and these latest findings suggest it could have a significant effect on liver cancer risk.'

Coffee consumption was divided into three categories: none, moderate (zero to three cups) and frequent (more than three).

Tea consumption was categorised by herbal, green, or black varieties and further into none or any consumption.

The researchers found that frequent coffee consumption was significantly linked to lower odds of liver stiffness - of which a high rating is deemed to signal scarring.

When they looked at the entire range of results, they found the same effects for any herbal tea consumption.

In patients with non-alcohol fatty liver disease, drinking coffee appeared to have a benefit by lowering the organ's stiffness.

But before regular coffee breaks should be added to daily life, more studies are needed to be done, the researchers added in the Journal of Hepatology.

It's safe to drink 4 cups a day

The findings come after scientists found drinking four cups of coffee each day won't damage someone's health.

International Life Sciences Institute researchers reviewed more than 740 studies into the effects of caffeine on humans.

They found consuming 400mg - the equivalent of four cups - was safe for adults, an amount that has long been deemed the limit.

So long as this quantity isn't regularly breached, there is no need to worry about consumption, the researchers said.