Coffee article Health
Does Coffee Help Your Liver?
According to the European Patients Association, liver disease is one of the most important
health issues in United Kingdom, United States, Australia and other European countries.
3rd main cause of premature death and the rate of death from the disease for those under the
age of 65 years has increased by almost 500% since 1970.
only major cause of death still increasing year-on-year.
5th ‘biggest killer’ after heart, cancer, stroke and respiratory disease and one in five of us may
The liver is the body’s largest internal organ and is essential to life. It performs over 500
different functions for the body, including: processing digested food from the intestine;
combating infections in the body; manufacturing, breaking down and regulating numerous
hormones; and making enzymes and proteins which are responsible for most chemical
reactions in the body.
The liver’s complexity makes it susceptible to many different diseases, including:
Hepatitis: the most common form of liver disease to cause inflammation of the liver. It can occur
in both viral (Hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E) and non-viral forms (e.g. alcohol related and
autoimmune hepatitis) and can also have autoimmune or genetic causes and may result in an
acute or chronic condition;
Cirrhosis: the excessive development of scar tissue within the liver which can lead to complete
liver failure. This is the result of long-term, continuous damage to the organ;
Fatty liver disease which includes a range of conditions where there is a build-up of fat in the
liver cells. It is caused by certain chemical compounds (particularly alcohol) and by nutritional
and endocrine disorders, such as obesity and diabetes;
Liver cancer may occur as both primary (cancer that starts in the liver) and
secondary/metastatic (cancer that first develops elsewhere in the body and then spreads to the
Autoimmune conditions such as Autoimmune Hepatitis (AIH), Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis
(PSC) and Primary Biliary Cholangitis (PBC)
Genetic diseases such as Haemochromatosis, Wilson’s disease and Gilbert’s syndrome
According to the European Association for the Study of the Liver, there is a global liver disease
Liver disease is estimated to affect 6 percent of the EU’s population or approximately 29 million
people and is reported to be the EU’s 5th biggest killer;
Liver cancer is the 5th most common cause of cancer-related deaths globally and the 14th most
prevalent in Europe2. It accounts for 5 percent, or 695,000 deaths worldwide (47,000 deaths in
Liver cancer is the leading cause of death amongst patients with liver cirrhosis
It is estimated that over 10 million people in Europe are affected by Hepatitis1 with 600,000
dying of the acute or chronic consequences of Hepatitis B every year. The World Health
Organization (WHO) estimates that there are about 4 million carriers of Hepatitis C in Europe
The benefits of coffee consumption
Several evidence from medical research suggest that there is no direct association between
moderate coffee consumption and the risk of developing a range of liver diseases including
cancer, fibrosis and cirrhosis. In fact, studies in patients with a variety of liver diseases have all
found moderate coffee drinking has a positive effect on limiting the rate at which disease
Drinking moderate amounts of coffee may help to reduce the risk of liver cancer, and the risk of
developing liver cancer falls as coffee consumption rises
Moderate coffee consumption may also be related to a slower progression of chronic liver
disease. Patients who consumed a higher quantity of coffee have been found to display a milder
course of fibrosis, especially in those with alcohol related liver disease;
The association between moderate coffee consumption and a slower rate of fibrosis has also
been seen in patients with hepatic fibrosis, cirrhosis, non-alcohol related liver disease and
Patients with Hepatitis C who have a higher consumption of coffee, have a lower rate of disease
progression than those who drink less coffee
Caffeine consumption has been related to slower development of cirrhosis in patients scheduled
for liver biopsy;
Several different coffee components besides caffeine are being investigated for their beneficial
interaction with the liver. Kahweol and cafestol, naturally-occurring compounds in coffee, have
revealed certain anti-carcinogenic properties, while chlorogenic and caffeic acids indicate antiviral characteristics;
One of the breakdown products of caffeine, paraxanthine, has been shown to slow down the
growth of the type of tissue seen in liver fibrosis, alcohol related cirrhosis and liver cancer;
It is not yet fully clear whether, and to what extent, caffeine may be responsible for the reduction
in risk of developing these diseases but it is thought to play a positive role; and
Research shows coffee consumption is not associated with gastrointestinal dysfunction.
In another interesting report, the British Liver Trust compiled commonly asked questions and the
corresponding responses on the relation between coffee consumption and liver health.
Q. Is coffee good for the liver?
A. Research suggests that regular, moderate coffee consumption can lower people’s risk of
developing a range of liver diseases – including cancer, fibrosis (scar tissue that builds up within
the liver) and cirrhosis (the result of a long-term build-up of scar tissue within the liver).
Q. How many cups of coffee do I need to drink to see a benefit?
A. It is too early to make specific recommendations concerning the levels of coffee intake that
may be beneficial for liver function. Research suggests that regular, moderate coffee
consumption may be beneficial. However certain patients with specific conditions may need to
limit their caffeine consumption. For example, pregnant women are advised to limit their caffeine
intake to 200300mg per day – the equivalent amount found in 2-3 regular cups of coffee.
Q. Are the benefits of coffee down to caffeine?
A. While research has suggested that caffeine may slow down the progression of liver fibrosis,
alcohol related cirrhosis and liver cancer the extent to which caffeine is implicated in the
reduced risk of developing these diseases remains unclear. Research also suggests that other
coffee constituents, including cafestol and kahweol (naturally occurring compounds found in the
oily part of coffee), and antioxidants may have a beneficial effect on liver function.
Q. Is decaffeinated coffee as good as regular coffee?
A. Research suggests that caffeine might play a role in the relationship between coffee drinking
and lower risk of liver disease; however, currently there are no published studies specifically
investigating the effects of decaffeinated coffee on liver function.
Q. If I’m a coffee drinker, can I drink more alcohol without increasing my risk of liver disease?
A. No. All medical advice makes clear that excessive alcohol consumption is detrimental to
health. Adults who choose to consume alcohol should be aware of the recommended advice for
safe consumption. While scientific research suggests that coffee drinking may have a beneficial
effect on liver function, the risks associated with excessive alcohol consumption are not counter
balanced by coffee consumption.
Q. I’ve heard that the effects of alcohol on the liver can be different for women than for men. Is
the same true for coffee?
A. Generally, the effect of coffee drinking does not differ between the sexes; however, some
groups, such as pregnant women, smokers, or women taking hormone replacement therapy do
metabolize caffeine at a different rate to those in the general population. Pregnant women are
advised to limit their caffeine intake to 200-300mg per day – the equivalent amount found in 2-3
regular cups of coffee.
Q. Do all types of coffee have the same effect?
A. Studies investigating the relationship between coffee and liver function have demonstrated
beneficial effects in various types of coffee preparation, including filtered, instant and espresso
Q. Is it safe for individuals with liver disease to drink coffee?
A. Yes, there is no evidence to suggest that moderate coffee drinking poses any dangers for
individuals with liver disease. In fact, some studies suggest coffee may slow down the
progression of liver disease in some patients.
Q. Does coffee have any benefits for individuals with liver disease?
A. Research has shown that individuals with liver disease who regularly drink moderate
amounts of coffee tend to display a milder progression of the disease.
Given these growing evidence, it can be said that moderate coffee consumption, that is fresh
black brewed coffee, can make your liver healthy. I am sure coffee lovers out there are rejoicing!