New Study: Drinking Coffee May Reverse Liver Damage From Alcohol

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Coffee comprises an integral part of the morning routine for most adults. A cup of joe puts a little extra pep in your step and gives you the energy boost needed to start your morning with a bang. Fight off that afternoon crash with a perky pick me up or give your presentation a boost with a latte. Everyone loves the focus, clarity, and general good vibes associated with a delicious cup of coffee. Not only does it boost metabolism but it improves mood as well.

It’s common knowledge that coffee helps tremendously the morning after a few cocktails too many. Those who imbibed a little too much at a party or restaurant find themselves encouraged to gulp a mug of steaming coffee to decreased the effects of intoxication. However, the advantages of coffee go beyond eliminating that sluggish feeling. Drinking coffee can actually protect your liver from the damages of alcohol, specifically cirrhosis. The irony is not lost on me that one of the central features of Alcoholics Anonymous involves a seemingly never ending supply of coffee.

How Much Coffee Do I Need To Consume?

According to a Reuter’s study, your risk of developing cirrhosis drops by this percentage if you consume:

  • 1 cup a day = 22% less chance
  • 2 cups a day = 43% less chance
  • 3 cups a day = 57% less chance
  • 4 cups a day = 57% less chance

What is Cirrhosis?

Cirrhosis of the liver refers to scarring of the liver. In extreme cases it can cause liver failure and death. Commonly associated with alcoholism, cirrhosis deaths increased substantially within the past few decades. Though a direct correlation exists between cirrhosis and heavy drinking obesity and hepatitis are also major causes. Maintaining a healthy weight, abstaining from drinking alcohol, and avoiding high risk behaviors (such as intravenous drug use or unprotected sex). Treatment for cirrhosis involves managing the risk factors and careful medical supervision. Oftentimes a liver transplant is required.

Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics

A team of researchers combined data from previous studies exploring the relationship between caffeine derived from coffee and cirrhosis. According to the journal Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics:

“Of the more than 430,000 participants in these nine studies, 1,990 cases of cirrhosis were reported, although this frequency was found to be strongly negatively correlated with levels of coffee consumption.”

Filtering the data to include alcohol induced cirrhosis the researchers determined that a single cup of coffee each day led to a 22% decrease in the risk of developing the condition. Two cups virtually doubled the percentage, creating a 43% drop in risk factor. Three and four cups, 57% and 65% respectively continue to raise those numbers.

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Study Limitations

Researchers cannot pinpoint exactly what it is about coffee that produces such effects. Some postulate the drink’s antioxidants and anti inflammatory properties are responsible for the benefits. Furthermore, the study only analyzes those subjects with alcohol related cirrhosis.

The link, if any, between other types of cirrhosis has not been determined. Additionally, it is not known if all types of coffee — instant, ground, boiled, filtered, etc.— contain the same advantages.

Of course, excessive coffee consumption comes with its own set of negative side effects. Think racing heart, anxiety, jitters, inability to sleep, and headaches from caffeine withdrawal. Nor does this new development give a problem drinker carte blanche to up their alcohol intake so long as they ‘balance’ it with coffee. Moderation is key. Savoring several cups of coffee offers numerous benefits. Guzzling several pots a day does not.

Now if you’ll excuse me. The aroma from a fresh pot wafts from the kitchen. Time to grab my mug and officially start my morning.

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About Cary Byrd

eDrugSearch founder, Cary Byrd, has been called an “e-health innovator” by MarketIntellNow, interviewed by top pharmaceutical industry journalists, invited to Matthew Holt’s Health 2.0 Conference and a Consumer Report's health summit, and highlighted on numerous health blogs.

Coffee May Reverse Cirrhosis

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