Chronic liver disease and cirrhosis is the 11th cause of death in the US, killing nearly 32,000 people in 2010. But now, researchers are suggesting that drinking two or more cups of coffee every day can reduce the risk of death from liver cirrhosis by 66%.
Published in the journal Hepatology, the study adds to growing evidence that coffee has real health benefits.
One study recently suggested that consuming 200 mg of caffeine each day could boost long-term memory.
In this latest study, Dr. Woon-Puay Koh, from Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School Singapore and the National University of Singapore, led a team of researchers who investigated how coffee might help minimize deaths caused by liver cirrhosis. The World Health Organization say this condition is responsible for 1.3% of total deaths worldwide.
Dr. Koh notes that their study focused on the effects coffee, alcohol, black tea, green tea and soft drinks have on mortality risks from cirrhosis. However, only coffee decreased these risks, while heavy alcohol use - perhaps unsurprisingly - increased risk of death from this condition.
Study 'provides impetus to further evaluate coffee as therapeutic agent'
In the US, over 50% of people over the age of 18 drink coffee every day. America is a nation of coffee drinkers, who total around 100 million, and the amount spent importing coffee here each year totals around $4 billion.
With so much time and money centered around coffee, it is an added benefit that the beverage can be considered a healthy lifestyle choice for certain conditions.
To further investigate, the researchers used a prospective population-based study called The Singapore Chinese Health Study, which involved over 63,000 Chinese subjects living in Singapore who were between 45 and 74 years old.
These participants provided researchers with data on diet, lifestyle and medical histories through interviews and questionnaires between 1993 and 1998, and the researchers followed up with them for an average of 15 years.
The researchers recorded that a total of 14,928 of the study participants died in this time, of which 114 died from liver cirrhosis.
Overall results show that individuals who drank at least 20 g of ethanol (alcohol) each day had a greater risk of cirrhosis mortality, compared with non-drinkers. Meanwhile, coffee intake was linked with a lower risk of death from cirrhosis, and the researchers note this was particularly the case for non-viral hepatitis related cirrhosis.
In detail, participants who drank two or more cups of coffee each day had a mortality risk that was 66% lower than that of non-daily coffee drinkers.
The researchers note that drinking coffee was not linked with viral hepatitis B related cirrhosis mortality, however.
Dr. Koh says their study is the first to show a difference in coffee's effects on non-viral and viral hepatitis related cirrhosis mortality. He adds:
"This finding resolves the seemingly conflicting results on the effect of coffee in Western and Asian-based studies of death from liver cirrhosis.
Our finding suggests that while the benefit of coffee may be less apparent in the Asian population where chronic viral hepatitis B predominates currently, this is expected to change as the incidence of non-viral hepatitis related cirrhosis is expected to increase in these regions, accompanying the increasing affluence and westernizing lifestyles amongst their younger populations."
The authors conclude their study by noting that it "provides further impetus to evaluate coffee as a potential therapeutic agent in patients with cirrhosis."
Medical News Today recently reported on research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that suggested though overall caffeine intake has not increased, kids in the US are consuming caffeine from more diverse sources, including both coffee and energy drinks.
Our article on the health benefits of coffee also explores some of the other ways that the beverage can be good for us.