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Coffee may help to protect liver

[Posted: Tue 13/06/2006]

Drinking coffee could help to protect against alcohol-related cirrhosis of the liver, the results of a new study indicate.

A team of US researchers followed the progress of over 125,000 people who had undergone a medical exam between 1978 and 1985. At the time of the exam, none had diagnosed liver disease.

The participants filled out a questionnaire detailing how much coffee, tea and alcohol they drank per day. By the end of 2001, 330 had been diagnosed with liver disease, including 199 with alcohol-related cirrhosis.

According to the researchers, the more coffee a person consumed, the less likely they were to develop alcohol-related cirrhosis of the liver.

"Consuming coffee seems to have some protective benefits against alcoholic cirrhosis and the more coffee a person consumes, the less risk they seem to have of being hospitalised or dying of alcoholic cirrhosis. We did not see a similar protective association between coffee and non-alcoholic drinks", explained one of the researchers, Dr Arthur Klatsky of the Kaiser Permanente's division of research.

However Dr Klatsky emphasised that this 'is not a recommendation to drink coffee'.

"Nor is it a recommendation that the way to deal with heavy alcohol consumption is to drink more coffee. The value of this study is that it may offer us some clues as to the biochemical processes taking place inside liver cells that could help in finding new ways to protect the liver against injury", he said.

The research team found that people who drank one cup of coffee a day were, on average, 20% less likely to have alcoholic cirrhosis. For people drinking two to three cups of coffee, the reduction was 40%, while for those drinking four or more cups, the reduction in risk was 80%.

"Even allowing for statistical variation, this shows there is a clear association between coffee consumption and protection against alcoholic cirrhosis", said Dr Klatsky.

The researchers added that as they did not see a similar protective effect among tea drinkers, there may be something in coffee other than just caffeine that helps protect against alcoholic cirrhosis.

Details of these findings are published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

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  fifi  Posted: 14/06/2006 13:13
Make mine a double espresso
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