As if you needed another reason to love coffee--turns out, it could help prevent liver disease. That's according to a recent meta-analysis of nine previously published studies, which found drinking more coffee may lessen the probability of developing cirrhosis. Cirrhosis is a liver disease that kills over a million people worldwide annually. Characterized by scarring of the liver and subsequent loss of function, chronic alcoholism and hepatitis B and C represent the most common causes of cirrhosis.
As of now, no cure exists. Until now, treatment has focused on mitigating its damage and preventing the development of complications from the disease. Could coffee contain the secret to beating this deadly disease?
The data analyzed from previous studies revealed a strong inverse relationship between the quantity of coffee consumed and the likelihood of developing cirrhosis.
One cup of coffee: 22 percent reduction
Two cups of coffee: 43 percent reduction
Three cups of coffee: 57 percent reduction
Four cups of coffee: 65 percent reduction
While coffee seemed to be able to prevent cirrhosis, researchers found no evidence that it "undid" existing liver damage.
The analysis also raised further questions that need addressing before researchers can assert definitive conclusions. For instance, one study showed drinking filtered coffee produced stronger anti-cirrhosis outcomes than boiled coffee.
The Mystery Continues
Despite coffee consumption correlating strongly with reduced risk of cirrhosis, researchers are still puzzling over why. Scientists emphasize that coffee should not be viewed as an antidote for high-risk factors that lead to cirrhosis.
As Samantha Heller, a clinical nutritionist at New York University uninvolved in the study, explained, "drinking a few cups of coffee a day cannot undo the systematic damage that is the result of being overweight or obese, sedentary, excessive alcohol consumption or drastically mitigate an unhealthy diet."
In the meantime, keep enjoying your daily cup (or four) of coffee. Not only is it delicious and responsible for giving you the kick in the pants you need to get out of bed every morning, coffee just might be protecting your liver, too.