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Cirrhosis mortality risk lowered by coffee

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Two or more cups per day had 66% reduction in mortality risk

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Cirrhosis is scarring of the liver caused by many forms of liver diseases and conditions, such as hepatitis and chronic alcohol abuse. Approximately 25,000 Americans die each year from chronic liver disease and cirrhosis. More than 300,000 people are hospitalized each year due to cirrhosis, according to St. Louis University Liver Center.

Limited experimental and epidemiological data suggest that coffee may reduce hepatic damage in chronic liver disease. Last year, UK researchers found coffee drinking is associated with a reduced prevalence of cirrhosis in patients with chronic liver disease.

Dr. Woon-Puay Koh, PhD, with Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School Singapore and the National University of Singapore and lead researcher and colleges examined the effects of coffee, black tea, green tea, fruit juices or soft drinks on risk of mortality from cirrhosis.

This prospective population-based study, known as The Singapore Chinese Health Study, included of 63,275 middle-aged and older Chinese subjects between the ages of 45 and 74 and resided in Singapore. Participants provided data on diet, lifestyle and medical histories through in-person interviews at enrollment between 1993 and 1998.

Participants were followed for an average of 14.7 years during which time there were 14,928 deaths (24%), 114 died from cirrhosis, 33 of them from viral hepatitis B (29%), two from hepatitis C (2%), and 14 from alcohol-related cirrhosis (12%).

The results indicated those who drank at least 0.7 ounces of alcohol daily had a higher risk of cirrhosis mortality compared to non-drinkers.

There was a strong dose-dependent inverse association between coffee intake and risk of non-viral hepatitis related cirrhosis mortality.

Compared to non-daily coffee drinkers, those who drank two or more cups per day had 66% reduction in mortality risk. Coffee intake was not associated with hepatitis B related cirrhosis mortality. The consumption of black tea, green tea, fruit juices or soft drinks was not associated with risk of cirrhosis death.

In their conclusion the researchers write “This study demonstrates the protective effect of coffee on non-viral hepatitis related cirrhosis mortality, and provides further impetus to evaluate coffee as a potential therapeutic agent in patients with cirrhosis.”

According to Dr. Koh, "Our study is the first to demonstrate a difference between the effects of coffee on non-viral and viral hepatitis related cirrhosis mortality.” "This finding resolves the seemingly conflicting results on the effect of coffee in Western and Asian-based studies of death from liver cirrhosis. Our finding suggests that while the benefit of coffee may be less apparent in the Asian population where chronic viral hepatitis B predominates currently, this is expected to change as the incidence of non-viral hepatitis related cirrhosis is expected to increase in these regions, accompanying the increasing affluence and westernizing lifestyles amongst their younger populations."

This research is published in Hepatology.

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