Does Drinking Coffee Protect Against Alcoholic Cirrhosis?
Research shows that drinking coffee may lower the risks of cirrhosis and elevated blood levels of liver transaminase enzymes. To determine whether drinking coffee can protect against alcohol-related liver disease, researchers assessed baseline alcohol and coffee use in 125,580 adults without liver disease at study entry and identified cases of cirrhosis over an average of 14 years. Medical records confirmed that 199 subjects had alcoholic cirrhosis and 131 had nonalcoholic cirrhosis.
- In adjusted analyses, the risk of alcoholic cirrhosis was significantly lower in coffee drinkers than in noncoffee drinkers (odds ratio 0.6 for 1–3 cups of coffee per day; odds ratio 0.2 for >=4 cups of coffee per day). Risk decreased by 20% for each cup of coffee consumed per day.
- Drinking coffee daily was generally associated with a significantly lower risk of elevated liver transaminase enzymes, especially in subjects who drank >=3 alcoholic drinks per day.
- Drinking coffee was not significantly associated with nonalcoholic cirrhosis.
This interesting study shows that drinking coffee potentially protects against alcoholic cirrhosis. Causality cannot be determined from this observational study, but these results should prompt further investigation into how coffee might protect the liver from alcohol-related injury. Of course, the best way to prevent alcoholic cirrhosis remains adhering to lower-risk drinking limits.Kevin L. Kraemer, MD, MSc
Klatsky AL, Morton C, Udaltsova N, et al. Coffee, cirrhosis, and transaminase enzymes. Arch Intern Med. 2006;166(11):1190–1195.