Many studies are pointing to the power of caffeine to ward off liver disease.
“Researchers discovered that coffee drinkers had lower levels of liver enzymes,” commented Dr. Sanjiv Chopra, hepatologist and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. “Since then, many studies have shown that coffee is amazingly protective for the liver.”
According to the American Liver Foundation, liver diseases, which include hepatitis, cirrhosis, and liver cancer, afflict one out of every ten Americans. More than 42,000 people die of liver disease every year.
“We think about 1 billion people in the world have some form of chronic liver disease,” Dr. Chopra said. This means that, simply by offering protection against liver disease, the caffeine in coffee could help nearly a half a billion people enjoy heathier, longer lives.
One study found that people who drank two cups of coffee each day had a 50% reduction in hospitalization and mortality from chronic liver disease. Another study showed that drinking two cups of coffee a day decreases the incidence of primary liver cancer by 43%. A third study indicated that people drinking at least one cup of coffee each day had a 20% reduction in their risk of developing alcoholic cirrhosis of the liver and that increasing their consumption to two cups per day reduced their risk by 40%.
Decaffeinated coffee does not seem to offer the same beneficial effect. So when Dr.Chopra refers to “coffee,” he really is speaking about the caffeine in coffee.
Dr. Chopra encourages his patients to use caffeinated coffee. “When I see patients, I tell them that coffee is amazingly protective for the liver,” he says. “I ask all of them if they drink coffee,” he says. “And as long as they have no contraindications, I suggest they start drinking coffee if they can, and gradually increase the amount until they get up to two cups a day.”