Coffee May Curb Liver Disease

Coffee may guard against sclerosis of the liver

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) A good cup of coffee kick starts the morning for many who favor that caffeine-fueled beverage. But its benefits don’t necessarily end there.

Regular coffee consumption also may protect against sclerosis of the liver, according to a preliminary study.

However, according to the study, drinking coffee did not protect against liver cirrhosis.

But it did guard against primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC), a bile duct disease that causes inflammation, duct obstruction, and possibly liver cirrhosis, liver failure and biliary cancer.

"Ask your doctor about liver disease treatments."

Gastroenterologist Craig Lammert, MD, of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., tracked more than 1,300 people between 2002 and 2012.

Of the study participants, 348 suffered with PSC, 530 had liver cirrhosis, which, over time, replaces healthy tissue with scar tissue. There were 456 healthy people included for comparison. 

On their own, Lammert wrote, study participants completed a questionnaire about how much coffee they were currently drinking, as well as coffee consumption throughout their lifetimes.

The results showed small, but significant differences, even after adjusting for age and sex:

  • 21% of PSC patients and 13% of controls reported never drinking coffee
  • 67% of PSC patients and 78% of controls were current coffee drinkers 
  • PSC cases consumed 50 cups/month and had spent 50% of their life actively drinking coffee 
  • Controls consumed 78 cups/month and had spent 67% of their life drinking

People may be born with genes that place them at higher risk for PSC, which also has been seen in patients with inflammatory bowel disease and diseased pancreas.

Symptoms of liver disease can include physical exhaustion, itching, loss of appetite and weight and yellowing of the skin and eyes.

Some people, however, show no symptoms at all.

Lammert wrote that he and his team of researchers began the study because previous research had shown that coffee prevented inflammation in the liver. 

The preliminary study has not yet been reviewed or considered for publication by any medical journals.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
May 15, 2013
Last Updated:
September 13, 2013