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June 22, 2021

Drinking coffee reduces risk of liver disease and cancer, study shows

Researchers found coffee drinkers had nearly 50% less chance of dying from liver disease

Coffee Liver Craig Melville/Pixabay

Coffee drinkers are 21% less likely to develop chronic liver disease and 20% less likely to develop fatty liver disease, a new study shows.

Don't skip your morning cup of joe  doctor's orders.

A new study has found that drinking three to four cups of coffee a day reduces the risk of developing potentially fatal chronic liver diseases.

Coffee drinkers in the study who drank both decaffeinated and regular coffee and were 21% less likely to develop chronic liver disease, 20% less likely to develop fatty liver disease and were 49% less likely to die from chronic liver disease than non-coffee drinkers.

The study, published in the journal BMC Public Health, tracked coffee consumption in 494,585 people of the UK Biobank, a biomedical database and research resource, for nearly a dozen years.

"Coffee is widely accessible, and the benefits we see from our study may mean it could offer a potential preventative treatment for chronic liver disease," Dr. Oliver Kennedy, author of the study and member of the medical faculty of the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom, said in a statement to CNN

"This would be especially valuable in countries with lower income and worse access to health care and where the burden of chronic liver disease is highest."

The highest benefit was seen in those that drank caffeinated or decaffeinated coffee, followed closely by instant coffee drinkers. 

Researchers said ground coffee has higher levels of two antioxidants, kahweol and cafestol, that have been found to have anti-inflammatory properties.

Liver cancer is on the rise. Factors like drinking alcohol, obesity, diabetes, smoking, hepatitis B and C and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease can increase the chance of liver diseases.

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease occurs in people who are overweight or have diabetes, high cholesterol or high triglycerides. Diagnoses have more than doubled over the past 20 years, according to the American Liver Foundation.

Liver cancer rates have more than tripled since 1980, and death rates have more than doubled, the American Cancer Society reported.

This study comes on the heels of an analysis released in February that found those that people who drink black, caffeinated coffee had a reduced risk of heart failure. In fact, several studies have shown excessive coffee consumption has no negative health effects.

However, researchers said additives can negate the health benefits of coffee. Most of these studies measure black coffee's effect on the body, but the majority of people add sugar, dairy and creamers that are high in calories, sugars and fat.

Caffeine in large doses — more than four cups — can be dangerous for certain populations, research shows. Pregnant women, people with sleep issues or uncontrolled diabetes should be cautious of drinking too much caffeine.

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