Coffee Lowers Liver Disease Risk, Plus Five Other Benefits

May 20 2013 - 9:26am
Coffee and liver disease

That cup of coffee you enjoy every morning could do more than help you wake up; it could reduce your risk of liver disease. Results of a new study note that that drinking coffee on a regular basis is associated with a lower risk of primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC). But stick around: there are five other benefits from drinking coffee as well.

Coffee may be good for your liver

At the recent Digestive Disease Week 2013 conference in Orlando, Florida, researchers reported on their findings after examining two groups of patients with liver disease: those with PSC and another group with primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC). A group of health individuals was used as the control.

The investigators found that coffee consumption was associated with a lower risk of developing PSC, but not PBC. This finding held true even though patients with PSC were less likely to drink coffee than were healthy individuals. The study’s findings are of particular interest because they reveal information about these two forms of liver disease.

A translation of primary sclerosing cholangitis reveals that “sclerosing” means scarring or hardening of the bile ducts in the liver that is the result of chronic inflammation, while “cholangitis” refers to inflammation of the bile ducts. PSC is chronic, progressive, and its cause is unknown. The end result is liver damage and liver failure, and although there is no cure, a liver transplant can be performed in individuals who have severe liver damage.

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Primary biliary cirrhosis also is a chronic condition in which the bile ducts are gradually destroyed. The bile ducts are essential for digestion and eliminating certain toxins from the body, and their destruction can lead to irreversible liver damage. PBC is believed to be an autoimmune disease (one in which the body attacks its own cells and tissues), and the cause is unknown.

According to one of the study’s authors, Craig Lammert, MD, a gastroenterologist at the Mayo Clinic, “our first-time finding points to a novel environmental factor that also might help us to determine the cause of this and other devastating autoimmune diseases.” The study’s senior author, Konstantinos Lazaridis, MD, a hepatologist at Mayo Clinic, commented that their findings “might tell us about the causes of these diseases and how to better treat them.”

Other health benefits of coffee
Although you probably don’t need a reason to enjoy your coffee every day, here are five more health benefits that cup of java can offer you and your family.

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