Coffee lovers rejoice! There is yet another reason to drink up another cup of the brown stuff. Recent research suggests that moderate coffee consumption – that's three to five cups, according to the European Food Safety Authority‘s review of caffeine safety – can cut your risk of developing liver disease by up to an impressive 65 percent.
This news comes from the Institute for Scientific Information on Coffee (ISIC), who recently released a roundtable report on the health effects of coffee and caffeine consumption on the liver. According to the paper, regular coffee drinkers are up to 40 percent less likely to develop liver cancer and 25-70 percent less likely to get cirrhosis.
Right now, there are roughly 29 million Europeans living with a chronic liver condition, many of whom may be completely unaware of it as the disease is often symptomless. Chronic liver disease – which covers a number of conditions including hepatitis, cirrhosis, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and hepatocellular cancer – is the fifth most common cause of death in the European Union.
"Liver disease is on the rise across Europe and it is important that we understand how coffee, one of the most popular drinks in the world, and diet affects the disease," Graeme Alexander, a professor at University College London and a senior advisor at the British Liver Trust, explained in a statement. "Research suggests that coffee may reduce the risk of liver diseases and it is important patients have access to dietary information and advice from health care professionals in a manner that is easy for them to understand and act upon."
It is not exactly clear why coffee is linked to reduced liver disease risk, but existing data shows that coffee drinkers exhibit significantly lower levels of the liver enzymes gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT) and alanine transaminase (ALT) than those who avoid coffee altogether.
More research is needed to explore this link further, but for the time being, the key takeaway seems to be that coffee drinking in moderation is good for you.
"Liver disease is a silent killer as often there are no symptoms until it's too late," Judi Rhys, chief executive of British Liver Trust, said in the statement. "Coffee is something that is easily accessible to everyone and regularly drinking it – filtered, instant or espresso – may make a difference in preventing and, in some cases, slowing down the progression of liver disease – it is an easy lifestyle choice to make."