Coffee and cirrhosis, which is a late stage of scarring of the liver caused by hepatitis or chronic alcohol abuse, appears to be an unusual topic for a research study. However, people who have been following the ongoing research on drinking coffee and its health benefits are not surprised.
Increasing coffee consumption may substantially reduce the risk of cirrhosis, reports the journal Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics (AP&T), according to a February 20 CNN report. The AP&T article, which was first published in January 2016, is appearing in the journal’s March 2016 edition.
According to researchers, liver cirrhosis is a significant burden on global health causing over one million deaths per year. “Observational studies have reported an inverse association between coffee and cirrhosis.”
An inverse association means that the more you do something, the less something else happens. In the case of coffee, the more you drink it, the less cirrhosis symptoms appear. More specifically, the study of more than 430,000 participants showed that drinking just two more cups of coffee every day may lower the risk of developing the liver condition by 44 percent.
As to how this is possible, the journal writes the following:
“Coffee is ubiquitous [very common] in most societies. Coffee comprises over a thousand compounds, many of which are biologically active and may affect human health. These include caffeine, chlorogenic acid, melanoids and the pentacyclic diterpenes, kahweol and cafestol. The biological effects of coffee include stimulation of the central nervous system, primarily by caffeine, the attenuation of oxidative stress and inflammation, and anti-carcinogenesis. Due to its widespread consumption, coffee and its effects on health have been studied extensively. In the context of liver disease, coffee appears to confer a number of protective effects. Animal studies and human observational studies suggest that coffee consumption reduces the frequency of abnormal liver function tests, fibrosis, cirrhosis and HCC. In addition, a randomised-controlled trial (RCT) showed that patients with hepatitis C who drank more coffee had lower serum levels of liver enzymes.”
To summarize the above quote, coffee is good for you if not consumed more than what is good for your body. But one can safely assume that this applies to almost everything, including alcohol, chocolate, and even basic necessities as eating and sleeping.
So how much coffee is good, how much is too much, and how much can help cirrhosis?
According to Dr. Oliver Kennedy, who conducted the research as part of a team at Southampton University in the United Kingdom, “1 cup per day was associated with a 22% lower risk of cirrhosis and 4 cups per day was associated with a 65% lower risk.”
Since men and women process coffee and alcohol differently, the question of how much coffee is good for a person depends on one’s gender and body. Women do not metabolize alcohol as quickly as men, and coffee might similarly have a different effect on a woman’s body. According to the Mayo Clinic, for the average person, drinking 400 milligrams of caffeine per day seems to be safe and healthy for most adults. Those 400 milligrams can be consumed in four cups of coffee a day, 10 cans of cola, or just two “energy shot” drinks.
In regard to cirrhosis, Dr. Kennedy points out that drinking more than four cups of coffee does not mean more benefits. Since alcohol-related liver damage differs from person to person, the results might also vary.
Below is a list of 13 more benefits on your health by drinking coffee:
1. Coffee can help people feel less tired and increase energy levels because of its caffeine, which is the most commonly consumed psychoactive substance in the world.
2. Coffee can help you with your weight and burn fat because it can boost a body’s metabolic rate by 3 to 11 percent.
3. Coffee and its caffeine increases Epinephrine (Adrenaline) levels in the blood. This is the “fight or flight” hormone, and since it is designed to make our body ready for intense physical exertion, it is a great physical upper before going to the gym.
4. Coffee has essential nutrients including Riboflavin, Pantothenic Acid, Manganese, Potassium, Magnesium and Niacin.
5. Coffee can affect your chances of developing type II diabetes because its ingredients affect a body’s ability to deal with blood sugars and insulin.
6. Coffee can be connected to Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia because coffee’s complex ingredients (as shown in the above quote) can affect these neurodegenerative diseases.
7. Coffee and Parkinson’s disease sufferers have been linked because of caffeine and its effect on people suffering from a neurodegenerative disease. “People who drink decaf don’t have a lower risk of Parkinson’s,” writes the American Journal of Epidemiology. Quite interestingly, the journal points out that “Caffeine consumption is associated with a reduced risk of Parkinson’s disease in men but not in women. This gender difference may be due to an interaction between caffeine and use of postmenopausal estrogens.”
8. Coffee and depression are linked because of its effect on the central nervous system. A study conducted by Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) researchers found that “among women, drinking coffee may reduce the risk of depression. The researchers, led by Michel Lucas, research fellow in nutrition, found the risk of depression to be 20% lower among women who drank four or more cups of caffeinated coffee than those who drank little or none. Those who drank decaf, tea, soft drinks, chocolate and other beverages containing less caffeine did not appear to be protected against depression.”
9. Coffee and liver or colorectal cancer have been linked because of coffee’s chemopreventive compounds and because of its effect on a person’s digestive system. Drinking coffee and then going to the bathroom is an act of cleansing that gets rid of toxins. A large U.S. research study showed that people drinking about four cups of coffee had a lower risk of colon cancer or tumors.
10. Coffee (or drinking green tea) may lower the risk of heart disease or stroke if coffee is being consumed in a healthy way because it affects a body’s blood pressure. “Higher green tea and coffee consumption were inversely associated with risk of CVD [cardiovascular disease] and stroke in general population.”
11. Coffee and longevity have been part of research studies because of the drink’s ingredients and effect on cancer and cardiovascular disease.
12. Coffee is an antioxidant because of the active compounds in coffee . “Surprisingly, the single greatest contributor to the total antioxidant intake was coffee,” writes the Journal of Nutrition. Antioxidants are natural or man-made substances that can prevent or delay some types of cell damage. Most people consider fruits and vegetables or dietary supplements bought in the store as their antioxidant. However, the above list of research studies and health benefits of coffee, including on cirrhosis, shows that drinking a healthy amount of coffee (less than or about 4 cups a day) might have a more positive effect than going out and spending a lot of money on something else.
13. Coffee and happiness are linked – as shown in the above studies — because coffee affects your mental abilities, your digestive system, and your bathroom visits.
After reading the list of 13 health benefits of coffee, it might not come as such a surprise that the new research (number 14) has linked coffee to cirrhosis. However, the three important topics that all researchers agree on is that the amount of coffee that someone drinks is important, that a person’s gender makes a difference, and that a lot more research between coffee and cirrhosis – or any other health topic is needed.