Give Your Liver a Cup of Coffee


Coffee, one of the world’s most popular drinks, can be pretty healthy for your liver. As Dr. Nick Maroulis, Director of Pharmacy at BioPlus Specialty Pharmacy, recently mentioned in a guest blog, The New Hepatitis C Era, there is a growing body of evidence showing that coffee can slow disease progression in chronic liver disease, cirrhosis, and infection with the hepatitis C virus.

Going even further back – to 2011 – one of my blogs, I am Pro Coffee, pointed out that heavy coffee drinkers (3+ cups a day) achieve better sustained viral response to hepatitis C treatment than non-coffee drinkers. So not only is it okay to enjoy your favorite coffee during hepatitis C treatment, it’s even preferable.

There is now even more timely evidence. A lifetime of coffee drinking can help prevent the development of liver cancer, according to new research published in Liver International. This protective effect of coffee, however, is not as strong in a sub-set of patients infected with the hepatitis B virus.

When researchers looked at the lifetime coffee habits of more than a thousand people (some with liver disease, some with liver cancer, and the rest healthy people) and checked for hepatitis B infection, it became clear that drinking lots of coffee over the course of a lifetime protected against the development of liver cancer. In this study, high coffee consumption was considered three cups a day. This coffee-liver connection remained true after adjusting for age, gender, weight, alcohol, and the presence of diabetes. Although being infected with hepatitis B weakened this coffee protection.

The benefits appear to be related to coffee’s ability to lower liver enzymes and preserve liver function. Coffee drinkers consistently measure as having lower liver enzyme levels, including serum alanine aminotransferase or gamma-glutamyl transferase. In addition, coffee lowers the risk of cirrhosis; cirrhosis is the strongest risk factor of hepatocellular carcinoma, which is the most common form of liver cancer.


What do you think

I’d love to hear your opinion in the comments section below.

Stephen C Vogt, PharmD
President and CEO
BioPlus SP

Jang ES, Jeong SH, Lee SH, et al. The effect of coffee consumption on the development of hepatocellular carcinoma in hepatitis B virus endemic area. Liver International 2013;33(7):1092-9. 

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