All of us know how good coffee is when it comes to health. And with those added taste and energy benefits, it has become something we cannot live without… most of us, at least.
Here is some good news for all those who can’t do without their morning cup of coffee – this cup (and more) may actually be able to reduce the damage last night’s boozing caused your liver. Yes, you read that right!
Researchers conducted a review of nine previous studies and found a correlation between drinking coffee and the risk of developing liver cirrhosis. These studies contained data of over 430,000 people and suggested that drinking two additional cups of coffee daily could bring down the risk of liver cirrhosis by 44%.
Cirrhosis is a disease in which the liver starts to malfunction, the flow of blood through the liver is blocked and processing of nutrients, hormones, drugs, and naturally produced toxins slows down. This disease is mostly caused by Hepatitis B or C, fatty liver (mainly associated with obesity or diabetes) and alcohol abuse.
This study was led by Dr. Oliver Kennedy of Southampton University in the U.K. Dr. Kennedy and his team conducted an analysis of earlier studies to see how coffee consumption affected the chances of liver disease. The studies together contained 1,990 patients suffering from cirrhosis. Out of the nine studies analyzed, eight indicated towards a connection between coffee and cirrhosis. Only one study was an anomaly to this trend.
In general, the studies showed that drinking one cup reduced the risk of cirrhosis by 22%, while two, three and four cups cut it down by 43%, 57% and 65% respectively.
Obviously, like many other predictive studies, this one too has some loose ends. For example, one study shows that filtered coffee is more effective as compared to boiled coffee. Also, these studies take into account only alcohol consumption and not other factors like diabetes and obesity.
Kennedy also cautions that this does not mean you fill yourself up with frothy calorie-laden “coffees” sold at most coffee shops. Those are more about various forms of sugar and less about coffee. You can read about the detailed breakdown of a Starbucks’ Frappuccino if you want to know more.
Another major loophole is that the exact component of coffee which causes this decrease in cirrhosis risk cannot be pointed out. “Coffee is a complex mixture containing hundreds of chemical compounds, and it is unknown which of these is responsible for protecting the liver,” Kennedy said.
Coffee also, obviously, does not contain superpowers to cure severe liver damage which could be caused by many factors like a person’s genetic build or their lifestyle choices.
“Unfortunately, although coffee contains compounds that have antioxidant effects and anti-inflammatory properties, drinking a few cups of coffee a day cannot undo the systematic damage that is the result of being overweight or obese, sedentary, excessive alcohol consumption or drastically mitigate an unhealthy diet,” said Samantha Heller, a senior clinical nutritionist at New York University Langone Medical Center in New York, as reported by Reuters. She wasn’t involved in the study.
How much coffee and cirrhosis relate to each other, only time and further research will tell. But eight studies indicating a relation is enough reason to drink one or two cups of coffee more every day. You never know, it might just undo the effect all that vodka from last weekend had on your liver. Are those tears of joy I see in your eyes?