Researchers found that drinking two or more cups of coffee daily can reduce the risk of death from liver cirrhosis, specifically cirrhosis caused by non-viral hepatitis. The study found that tea, fruit juice, and soft drink consumption are not linked to cirrhosis mortality risk. In fact, subjects who drank two or more cups per day had a 66 per cent reduction in mortality risk, compared to non-daily coffee drinkers. However, coffee intake was not associated with viral hepatitis B related cirrhosis mortality.
As with previous studies heavy alcohol use was found to increase risk of death from cirrhosis. A 2004 report from The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that each year 1.3 per cent of total death worldwide is caused by liver cirrhosis.
"Prior evidence suggests that coffee may reduce liver damage in patients with chronic liver disease," said lead researcher, Dr Woon-Puay Koh with Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School Singapore and the National University of Singapore.
"Our study examined the effects of consuming coffee, alcohol, black tea, green tea, and soft drinks on risk of mortality from cirrhosis," Koh said. The prospective population-based study, known as The Singapore Chinese Health Study, recruited 63,275 Chinese subjects between the ages of 45 and 74 living in Singapore.
Patients were followed for an average of nearly 15 years, during which time there were 14,928 deaths (24 pr cent); 114 of them died from liver cirrhosis. Findings indicate that those who drank at least 20 g of ethanol daily had a greater risk of cirrhosis mortality compared to non-drinker.
In contrast, coffee intake was associated with a lower risk of death from cirrhosis, specifically for non-viral hepatitis related cirrhosis. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), a chronic liver disease related to the metabolic syndrome and more sedentary affluent lifestyle, likely predominates among the non-viral hepatitis related cirrhosis group.
"Our study is the first to demonstrate a difference between the effects of coffee on non-viral and viral hepatitis related cirrhosis mortality," said Koh. "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 westernising lifestyles amongst their younger populations," Koh said. The study was published in the journal Hepatology.