Large new study confirms benefits of coffee for liver health
Drinking more than three cups of caffeinated coffee a day is associated with fewer liver problems, according to a new study.
The study is likely the most rigorous look to date on the benefits of coffee on liver health in the U.S. It was based on data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey which asked people about what they eat and drink.
“This is the closest we’re ever going to get to a linkage between what people are eating or drinking and the health of their liver, absent a longitudinal study where we set out to follow people for many, many years,” said Elliot Tapper, MD, assistant professor of gastroenterology at the University of Michigan, and the study’s senior author.
Researchers looked at data from about 4,500 patients who had participated in the survey in 2017-2018. The participants were 20 years old or older, with an average age of 48; 73% were overweight, about the national average.
The researchers found no connection between coffee consumption and a measure of fatty liver. But they found a link between coffee and liver stiffness.
Those who drank more than three cups of coffee daily had a lower liver stiffness measure measured in what’s known as kilopascals. Liver stiffness higher than 9.5 kilopascals is a sign of liver fibrosis, which can lead to cirrhosis.
Coffee consumption has been linked to a reduced risk of all kinds of ailments, including Parkinson’s disease, heart disease, diabetes, gallstones, depression, suicide, cirrhosis, liver cancer, melanoma and prostate cancer.
Numerous studies conducted throughout the world have indicated that consuming four or five eight-ounce cups of coffee (or about 400 milligrams of caffeine) a day was associated with reduced death rates.
In a study of more than 200,000 participants followed for up to 30 years, those who drank three to five cups of coffee a day, with or without caffeine, were 15 percent less likely to die early from all causes than were people who shunned coffee.
Perhaps most dramatic was a 50 percent reduction in the risk of suicide among both men and women who were moderate coffee drinkers, perhaps by boosting production of brain chemicals that have antidepressant effects.