August 14, 2013
1 min read

Studies indicate protective effects of coffee for liver disease

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Coffee consumption has been associated with reduced risk for or severity of a variety of liver-related issues, according to a recent systematic review.

Researchers evaluated numerous studies assessing the impact of coffee on liver disease, including hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), viral hepatitis, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and cirrhosis. Nine studies assessed coffee consumption on liver-related laboratory tests among patients at-risk for liver disease. A dose-dependent association was observed between consumption and ALT, AST and serum gamma glutamyltransferase levels.

Review of six studies assessing coffee’s impact on cirrhosis indicated a reduced risk for progression among patients with chronic liver disease. Cirrhotic patients who consumed coffee also were found to be at lower risk for death in two case-control studies, with a greater benefit among patients who reported drinking three or more cups daily.

Several studies of patients with chronic hepatitis C indicated improved outcomes among coffee drinkers, with associations observed between coffee and reduced fibrosis severity and disease progression, plus improved response to antiviral therapy.

Among five studies assessing coffee’s impact on NAFLD, case-control studies indicated reduced severity of fatty liver and inverse associations with insulin resistance and obesity. The investigators also cited a cross-sectional study showing decreased risk for hepatic fibrosis among coffee drinkers with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis.

While two early studies assessing coffee’s impact on HCC risk yielded no association, others of 14 reviewed studies suggested protective effects. Risk reduction was typically more pronounced among patients drinking three or more cups daily.

“While the aforementioned studies … suggest that coffee is useful as an alternative medicine in the treatment of the most common types of liver disease, blinded, randomized controlled trials must be performed,” the researchers wrote, adding that the primary use of observational and cross-sectional studies, the lack of demographic information, standardization of coffee cup size and data on consumption at multiple time points were study limitations.

“Additional animal and cell culture studies are also warranted to further elucidate the biochemical basis for the potent beneficial effects of coffee in liver disease patients.”

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.