If you drink coffee, your liver may benefit. New research indicates that drinking coffee, even decaf coffee, lowers liver enzyme levels for coffee drinkers who indulge in three cups of coffee a day. Coffee drinking has been linked to reduced diabetes risks and lower cardiovascular disease risks in the past. Researchers now claim that coffee, even decaf coffee, can also reduce your risks of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, cirrhosis of the liver, and liver cancer.
Coffee intake has been growing at least one percent each year since the 1980s, according to Medical News Today. This might equate to healthier livers in general, if the new research is accurate. Published in the journal Hepatology, the results of a study led by Dr. Qian Xiao from the National Cancer Institute indicate that drinking coffee, even decaf coffee, has a protective effect on the liver.
“Prior research found that drinking coffee may have a possible protective effect on the liver,” Dr. Xiao said, as quoted by Medical News Today. “However, the evidence is not clear if that benefit may extend to decaffeinated coffee.”
Xiao’s research team examined data from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) between 1999 and 2010. Over 27,000 people participated in the survey, and all were at least 20-years-old.
Study participants took a survey reporting their coffee intake, and then researchers measured their blood levels for liver functioning markers “including aminotransferase (ALT), aminotransferase (AST), alkaline phosphatase (ALP), and gamma glutamyl transaminase (GGT).”
The research found that all four liver enzymes were lower in participants who drank at least three cups of coffee each day than those who drank none. The results were the same regardless of whether the participants favored decaf in place of regular coffee.
“Our findings link total and decaffeinated coffee intake to lower liver enzyme levels,” Dr. Xiao explained. “These data suggest that ingredients in coffee, other than caffeine, may promote liver health. Further studies are needed to identify these components.”
Cosmopolitan mentioned the researchers also found that coffee intake seemed to counter the effects of drinking alcohol, something the medical-based news reports left out. According to Cosmo, “heavy alcohol drinkers who also drank coffee appeared to have healthier livers than heavy drinkers who drank no coffee.”
“This apparent benefit was far more modest than the harmful effects of heavy alcohol drinking, which is an established cause for liver disease,” Xiao explained, which was probably the reason most news stories didn’t mention the benefit of coffee intake with respect to alcohol intake.
So, while Inquisitr previously reported benefits of dumping the coffee habit for good, those sensitive to the addictive qualities of caffeinated coffee could still enjoy the purported liver-protective qualities by indulging in three cups of decaffeinated coffee each day.