Could this favorite pick-me-up also be your saving grace against liver damage from booze?

A new study from the United Kingdom analyzed data from nine studies that involved over 430,000 participants, finding that two additional cups of coffee each day led to a 44 percent reduced risk for liver cirrhosis.

Over a million individuals around the world each year dies from cirrhosis, which can result from excess alcohol intake, hepatitis infections, immune disease, and fatty liver disease. The latter is linked to obesity and metabolic conditions such as diabetes.

“Cirrhosis is potentially fatal and there is no cure as such,” says lead author and Southampton University professor Dr. Oliver Kennedy.

Dr. Kennedy highlighted the potential role of consuming coffee – an affordable and generally well-tolerated everyday beverage – in decreasing the risk of developing the condition.

The team analyzed average coffee consumption in the nine earlier studies, which comprised over 1,900 cirrhosis patients, to gauge the effects of adding two more cups daily in fighting liver disease potential.

The results: in eight out of nine studies, increased coffee intake was tied to a significant reduction in cirrhosis risk. Except in one study, the risk continued to fall as daily ingestion of coffee increased.

Compared to no coffee intake, four coffee cups translated to a 65 percent lower risk, three cups to 57 percent, and two cups to 43 percent. A single cup each day was estimated to lead to 22 percent lower cirrhosis risk.

The variety of coffee also emerged as a likely consideration. In one study, there was a greater link found between coffee intake and reduced risk for liver disease when participants consumed filtered rather than boiled coffee.

But don’t load up on your favorite frappuccino with whipped cream just yet, warned Dr. Kennedy, as the exact type of beans, brewing technique, and mechanism of coffee’s beneficial effects are still largely unknown.

“[I]t is unknown which [chemical compounds in the drink] is responsible for protecting the liver,” he explains.

Experts also add that the powers of coffee, too, won’t be able to counteract poor lifestyle choices that severely batter and damage the liver, including alcoholism, being overweight, or following an unhealthy diet.

The findings were published Jan. 25 in the journal Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics.

A separate analysis recently warned against the amount of sugar found in popular beverages such as lattes, coffees, and hot chocolates in cafés and fast food chains. One-third of these drinks, the authors discovered, had sugar levels higher than those of known soda products.

Photo: Berit Watkin | Flickr

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