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Latest Study on Coffee and Liver Disease Suggests the World Should Do This

Timothy Boyer Ph.D.'s picture
Liver disease prevention from coffee.

Scientific data suggests that coffee has a dose‐dependent protective effect on liver‐related mortality—here’s why going from 2 cups per day to 4 per day might be important to your health.


Coffee's Link with Disease Prevention

Past research results from multiple separate studies has continually concluded that among the benefits of drinking coffee, protection from liver disease is one that appears to stand out as among the strongest benefits to health.

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According to Sarah Gardner of the liver transplant unit at The Austin Hospital in Australia and one of the co-authors of a new study, previous study findings indicate that the amount of coffee you drink daily can make a difference.

“Compared to noncoffee drinkers, those who drank 2‐3 cups daily had a 38% reduction in HCC [hepatocellular carcinoma] risk and a 46% reduction in risk of death from chronic liver disease (CLD). If individuals drank four or more cups daily the risk reduction for HCC was 41% and for death from CLD was 71%. Other cohort studies have reported risk reductions of similar magnitude,” stated Dr. Gardner.

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But to what extent taking up drinking 2 cups per day or increasing your daily intake to 4 or more cup can affect the mortality numbers worldwide had yet to be examined.

Worldwide Coffee Drinking Might Cut Liver Deaths by Half

According to a new study, Dr. Gardner and her colleagues recently examined data from the Global Burden of Disease 2016 dataset with a focus on liver-related mortality and state that in 2016, worldwide there was an estimated 1,240,201deaths. From that figure using computer modeling, they examined how the numbers played when examining coffee drinking habits that ranged from less than and equal to two cups per day in comparison to four or more cups per day.

What they found was that there is remarkable dose-dependent evidence to support the notion that encouraging everyone to either begin drinking coffee or increasing the amount of coffee they drink per day could cut the number of liver related deaths by nearly half yearly.

More specifically, what they found was that:

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• Worldwide, there were an estimated 1,240,201 adult liver‐related deaths in 2016.

• If all countries with a per capita coffee intake of ≤2 cups/ day increased it to >2 cups/ day, the predicted total number of liver‐related deaths would have been 630,947 in 2016. The modeling predicts that this translates to 452,861 deaths averted by the factored change.

• If all countries per capita coffee consumption was ≥ 4 cups/ day, the predicted number of liver‐related deaths in 2016 would have been 360,523. The modeling predicts that this translates to 723,287 averted by the factored change.

The conclusion the researchers reached from the numbers is that if coffee truly has the liver disease preventing health benefit studies have shown so far, that encouraging a change in coffee drinking habits worldwide could save many lives.

“Increasing per capita coffee consumption to > 2 cups per day on a population level has the potential to avert hundreds of thousands of liver‐related deaths annually if the impact of coffee on liver‐related mortality is confirmed in clinical trials," wrote Sarah Gardner.
However, this does not necessarily mean that caffeine is to be praised.

According to a Fox News release, “The mechanism by which coffee offers protection from liver disease has not been clearly demonstrated, but it appears that caffeine is not the protective chemical. Of the many compounds in coffee, diterpenes and chlorogenic acids are the most studied in liver disease," the study authors stated.

Coffee clearly helps your liver," says Dr. Douglas Dieterich, a hepatologist at Mount Sinai Division of Liver Medicine and Gastroenterology, for Fox News. “This study demonstrates the impact on a larger scale of previous studies."

The researchers report that coffee is an easily accessible and relatively safe health intervention that may reduce liver‐related mortality globally, but still mandates additional research to confirm the benefits of coffee on liver‐related mortality.

Timothy Boyer has a Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of Arizona. For 20+ years he has been employed as a freelance health and science writer. Timothy continues writing about science with a focus on the connection between coffee and healthy living. For continual updates about the benefits of coffee on your health, you can also follow Timothy on Twitter at TimBoyerWrites.

Image Source: Courtesy of photo by Fadhi Muhammed on Unsplash


Coffee may protect your liver, new research suggestsFox News 19 August 2020.

Estimates of the global reduction in liver disease‐related mortality with increased coffee consumption: an analysis of the Global Burden of Disease DatasetAlimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics; Paul Gow et al, 14 August 2020.