New research has found that drinking coffee can help your body offset the damage of alcohol by reducing your risk of liver cirrhosis. Now, not to be mistaken for a reason to drink heavily, the news shines yet another light in the direction of coffee — a misunderstood beverage whose positive effects continue to be discovered through clinical studies.
Certainly, drinking substantial amounts of caffeine every day in the form of coffee isn’t the healthiest approach to nutrition, but there are natural substances within the drink that undeniably promote health.
In the new study, involving more than 125,000 people, coffee provided a protective ability. Drinking one cup a day cut the risk of cirrhosis by 20%. They found a cumulative effect after that — drinking four cups a day lowered that risk by a whopping 80%.
Man or woman, the sex of the coffee drinker didn’t matter. It was the same. The researchers were probably too surprised to have time to figure out why this was so, as it remained unclear whether it’s the caffeine or the ingredients within coffee (such as its strong antioxidants) that prevent alcohol-fueled liver disease.
The individuals included in the study spanned a whole range of possible drinkers. There were those people who had a few drinks a week, those who enjoyed a glass or two a day, all the way up to heavy drinkers (eight percent of the participants in the study).
In looking at a range of individuals, including those who Don’t drink, the researchers may have helped uncover some of the explanation as to why certain livers can withstand heavy alcohol use while others succumb to it. Not all heavy drinkers, after all, develop cirrhosis — where the liver becomes permanently scarred and its ability to function is limited.
Coffee does not protect the liver from diseases and viruses such as hepatitis C that can cause cirrhosis. It only protects the organ from spirits, wine, and beer. And, whether or not a person drank alcohol, coffee led to better results in a person’s liver function. The news comes on the heels of previous studies that suggested coffee had an impact on the liver, possibly reducing the chances of cancer occurring in the organ.
For the “tea or coffee” debate, you should know that the former did not have a protective effect on the liver. Whether it is the caffeine levels of coffee or the natural substances that float within it, it seems the dark black elixir that starts off so many of our mornings has something that is vital for a strong liver — one of the most important organs in the body.
Remember, of course, that avoiding alcohol cirrhosis is best done by cutting down on your alcohol intake. But if you want to help offset the possible risk of a couple of beers or a half-liter of wine one night, then brew a pot of Joe in the morning.