Coffee: The Liver’s Libation

National Cancer Institute Says Coffee Helps Hepatitis C Sufferers

Coffee consumption may benefit Hepatitis C sufferers.

Coffee consumption may benefit Hepatitis C sufferers.

Thought your brain was the only thing perked up after your morning cup of joe?  Well according to a new study published in the journal Hepatology, your liver likes it a whole lot, too.

Researchers from the National Cancer Institute recruited over 760 volunteers with Hepatitis C, assessing their overall health, diet and the state of their liver (if not caught early, hepatitis C causes serious damage to the liver, including scarring, liver cancer, even liver failure).  Biopsies of their livers were taken twice during the four-year long study to see how, or if, there were signs of progressive liver damage.

Seeing as how some of the patients with hepatitis C had it for longer than others, the degree of liver damage varied among the 700+ participants.  But it also varied based on how much or how little coffee they drank.

When the researchers assessed the damage of all the participants’ livers and how much coffee they usually drank, they found that those who drank as much as 3.5 cups of coffee per day (eight oz. cups) had the “healthiest” livers, that is to say the progression of liver damage wasn’t as significant as those who drank less than three cups.

The degree of progression was particularly stark when compared to those who didn’t drink coffee at all, finding that the three-a-day coffee crew were 53 percent less likely to have their liver disease advance over those four years.

“Although we can not rule out other factors that go along with drinking coffee,” said the study’s lead author in a press release, “results from our study suggest that patients with high coffee intake had a lower risk of disease progression.”

The study’s authors point out that their findings only apply to people who are living with hepatitis C, not otherwise healthy people.

Becoming infected with hepatitis C can only be done by coming into contact with infected blood.  This puts people that work with potentially-infected needles (e.g., phlebotomists, medical technologists, tattoo artists), people given blood transfusions before 1992, and people that use or have used illicit drugs at the highest risk.

Approximately three million people in the U.S. have hepatitis C, a disease that kills an estimated 10,000 people every year in the U.S. alone due to liver complications.  Hepatitis C usually has mild, flu-like symptoms, but because the symptoms are so mild, hepatitis C often goes undiagnosed.

If you have any combination of symptoms that include fever, nausea, muscle soreness, or pain in your right side (where the liver is located), see your doctor immediately.  He or she will perform a blood test, and perhaps a liver biopsy to rule out whether or not more invasive treatment is necessary.


Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 6th December 2009

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply