In population studies, higher coffee consumption has been inversely associated with chronic liver disease incidence. Now a new study has found that a few cups of coffee a day seem to help prevent the progression of hepatitis C-related liver disease.
The study involved 766 participants in the Hepatitis C Antiviral Long-Term Treatment against Cirrhosis trial who had HCV-related bridging fibrosis or cirrhosis on liver biopsy and who failed to respond to peginterferon plus ribavirin. Baseline coffee and tea intake were assessed among patients, who were seen every three months and given liver biopsies at 1.5 years and 3.5 years.
"We observed an inverse association between coffee intake and liver disease progression," wrote Neal D. Freedman of the National Cancer Institute and colleagues. HCV liver disease-related clinical outcomes declined with increased coffee consumption: 11.1/100 person-years for no coffee, 12.1 for less than one cup per day, 8.2 for one to fewer than three cups per day, and 6.3 for three or more cups per day (P-trend=0.0011). Compared with not drinking coffee, relative risks at 95 percent confidence intervals were 1.1 (0.76-1.61) for less than one cup a day; 0.70 (0.48-1.02) for one to fewer than three cups a day; and 0.47 (0.27-0.85) for three or more cups per day.
"In a large prospective study of participants with advanced hepatitis C-related liver disease, regular coffee consumption was associated with lower rates of disease progression," the authors concluded.
Coffee may protect against liver disease by reducing the risk of type-two diabetes, which has been associated with liver disease, or by reducing inflammation, researchers suggested. Caffeine has also previously been found to inhibit liver cancer in rats. Drinking black or green tea, which also contain caffeine, had no association with liver disease progress; however, few study participants consumed tea.
The full report, "Coffee Intake Is Associated With Lower Rates of Liver Disease Progression in Chronic Hepatitis C," was published in Hepatology (2009;doi:10.1002/hep.23162).