Does Coffee Really Protect Your Liver?

Last year, I told you about the decreasing risk of liver cancer among patients drinking coffee. A study of some 125,000 Americans has found patients can reduce their risk of cirrhosis by 22 percent for each cup of coffee they drink a day.

Over the course of two decades, 330 patients contracted cirrhosis, with 60 percent of those cases blamed on drinking excessive amounts of alcohol. But, coffee appears to be the one constant in preventing it. Drinking less than a cup a day reduced a patient's liver problems by 30 percent and consuming up to three cups lowered those risks by 40 percent.

Also, coffee drinkers -- regardless how much alcohol they consumed -- had healthier results on blood tests that measure liver function. Interestingly, drinking tea had no effect on a patient's cirrhosis risks, implying the presence of caffeine probably has little to do with protecting your liver.

Before heading to Starbucks, however, remember coffee has its problems too. For one, it may interfere with your body's ability to regulate your cholesterol and homocysteine levels. And, drinking coffee may be inherently risky to your health, based on your body's unique nutritional type too.

Archives of Internal Medicine, Vol. 166, No. 11, June 12, 2006: 1190-1195

BBC News June 13, 2006

USA Today June 13, 2006

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