New study: Coffee ‘could reduce risk of chronic liver disease’

Drinking coffee every day could help reduce your risk of developing or dying from chronic liver disease.

Many of us rely on cappuccinos or espressos to get us through a busy day, and now scientists have found this ritual could come with added health benefits.

“[The study] confirms in a large UK cohort that coffee drinking is protective against severe liver disease,” said Professor Paul Roderick, a co-author of the study from the University of Southampton.

For the study, a team of experts analysed data from almost 500 000 participants in the UK Biobank – which looks at the impact of genetic and environmental factors on certain health conditions.

Participants were aged 40 to 69 and almost 350,000 of them confirmed they were coffee drinkers.

Coffee drinking can ward off liver disease

The liver health of the participants was analysed over an average of 11 years, and the data showed that those who had been drinking coffee – of any type and amount – had a 20% lower risk of developing chronic liver disease or fatty liver disease.

Coffee drinkers were also 49% less at risk of dying from chronic liver disease, compared to those who didn’t drink coffee.

These findings were calculated after considering factors such as alcohol consumption, smoking habits and body mass index.

How many cups?

Experts also found that the more coffee that was consumed, the greater the effect, but this levelled off at around three to four cups a day, “beyond which further increases in consumption provided no additional benefit”.

“It does, however, raise the issue that it might be an effective intervention to prevent severe liver disease, say in those at high risk,” Roderick noted.

The findings were published in the journal BMC Public Health.

Coffee alone not the answer

However, health leaders have warned that people must not rely on coffee alone to guarantee good liver health.

“It’s important that people improve their liver health not just by drinking coffee,” said Vanessa Hebditch, of the British Liver Trust. “But by also cutting down on alcohol and keeping to a healthy weight by exercising and eating well.”