Researchers from the Universities of Southampton and Edinburgh in the United Kingdom discovered that consuming any type of coffee was linked to a lower risk of developing and dying from chronic liver disease when compared to not drinking coffee, with the effect peaking at three to four cups per day.
The scientists looked at data from the UK Biobank on 495,585 people who had a history of coffee drinking and were tracked for a median of 10.7 years to see who acquired chronic liver disease and related liver diseases.
Of the total number of participants in the study, 78 % (384,818) drank ground or instant caffeine - containing or decaffeinated coffee, while 22 % (109,767) did not drink any type of coffee. During the study period, there were 3,600 cases of chronic liver disease, with 301 fatalities. There were also 5,439 cases of chronic liver disease or steatosis (fat buildup in the liver, often known as fatty liver disease) and 184 cases of Hepatocellular carcinoma, a kind of liver cancer.
Coffee consumers had a 21% lower risk of chronic liver disease, a 20% lower risk of chronic or fatty liver disease, and a 49% lower risk of mortality from chronic liver disease when compared to non-coffee drinkers. The greatest effect was shown in the group that drank ground coffee, which includes high quantities of the substances: Kahweol and cafestol, both of which have been demonstrated in animal studies to be helpful against chronic liver disease.
"Coffee is widely accessible and the benefits we see from our study may mean it could offer a potential preventative treatment for chronic liver disease. This would be especially valuable in countries with lower income and worse access to healthcare and where the burden of chronic liver disease is highest," said Oliver Kennedy, the lead author.
Since coffee consumption was only reported when people first joined the trial, the analysis does not account for any changes in the amount or type of coffee they consumed over the 10.7-year study period, noted the researchers. The findings may be difficult to generalize to other countries and populations because the participants were mostly white and from a higher socioeconomic background.