Drinking coffee protects alcohol drinkers from developing liver disease, says a new study carried out at the Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, California, USA. According to the researchers, one cup of coffee per day lowered the incidence of cirrhosis of the liver for alcohol drinkers by 22%.

Study leader, Dr. Arthur Klatsky, stressed that alcohol drinking, especially excess drinking, is linked to various different physical risks. As such, said Klatsky, the study’s findings should not be interpreted as a licence to booze to your heart’s content. He advised people not to consumer more than three alcoholic drinks a day.

This is not the first study to link coffee consumption to less liver disease. Another study published in Gastroentorology in December, 2005, had similar findings.

This new study was much larger than last years’. The new study was able to look more into each cause of cirrhosis and how coffee is linked a lower incidence of them.

The Kaiser Permanente study looked at information on 125,000 people with healthy livers from 1978 to 1985. Information had been collected about their alcohol, coffee and tea drinking habits. Of the 330 people who had developed cirrhosis of the liver by 2001, 199 had done so as a result of consuming alcohol. The researchers found that the incidence of cirrhosis went down 22% for each cup of coffee consumed per person per day.

You can read about this study in the Archives of Internal Medicine, June 12 issue.

Scientists are still unsure what it is in the coffee that provides the protection. It cannot be the caffeine because tea has caffeine but does not provide the same protection. Clinical trials are needed to further identify the relationship between coffee and how it lowers the incidence of liver disease.

Written by: Christian Nordqvist
Editor: Medical News Today