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Longevity Briefs: Coffee May Protect Against Liver Disease

Posted on 22 June 2021

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Longevity briefs provides a short summary of novel research in biology, medicine, or biotechnology that caught the attention of our researchers in Oxford, due to its potential to improve our health, wellbeing, and longevity.

Why is this research important: Chronic liver disease is a major health problem around the world, and is the third leading cause of premature death in the UK. Coffee has been studied for a variety of potential health benefits owing to its high content of flavonoids – powerful antioxidants that may protect against conditions including chronic diseases of ageing. Previous research has suggested that coffee consumption may protect against various liver diseases including liver cancer.

What did the researchers do: In this study, researchers analysed data from 494,585 UK Biobank participants aged 40 to 69. They then studied the liver health of the participants over a median period of nearly 11 years to see whether there was a relationship with coffee consumption.

Key takeaway(s) from this research: After accounting for factors such as alcohol consumption and smoking, researchers found that drinking coffee of any sort was associated with a 20% lower risk of developing chronic liver disease or fatty liver disease when compared with those who did not. Coffee drinkers were also 49% less likely to die from chronic liver disease.

Plots showing the hazard ratio (HR – the rate at which an event occurs relative to baseline) for chronic liver disease (CLD), CLD or steatosis, hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), and death from CLD for various types of coffee.

Drinking more coffee appeared to be associated with larger benefits up to a limit of 3-4 cups per day, beyond which there was no additional benefit. However, this study was observational and so cannot prove that drinking more coffee was protective – only that those who drank more coffee were less likely to develop chronic liver disease. Daily coffee consumption was only reported once, so participants’ habits may have changed over the course of the study. There was also no data on former coffee drinkers. Nevertheless, randomised trials investigating coffee as an intervention to protect those at risk of chronic liver disease may be warranted if the above results can be replicated.

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    Drinking coffee may cut risk of chronic liver disease, study suggests:

    All coffee types decrease the risk of adverse clinical outcomes in chronic liver disease: a UK Biobank study:

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