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Drinking coffee reduces death risk from cirrhosis

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Drinking two or more cups of coffee per day can significantly lower the death risk from cirrhosis of the liver by 66 percent, according to a new study published April 1, 2014 issue of the journal Hepatology.

The findings of the study, led by Dr. Woon-Puay Koh from Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School Singapore and the University of Singapore, add to a growing body of evidence that coffee has legitimate health benefits. This includes reducing the mortality risk from cirrhosis and chronic liver disease – the 11th cause of death in America, which killed almost 32,000 people in 2010.

The research team launched the study in an effort to explore how coffee might reduce the mortality rate for people with cirrhosis of the liver, which The World Health Organization reports 1.3 percent of people die from worldwide.

Koh pointed out that the research team focused their research on the effects that coffee, alcohol, soft drinks, green tea and black tea had on death risks from cirrhosis.

What the team discovered was that coffee was the only beverage that decreased the mortality risks from cirrhosis, and that heavy alcohol use increased the risk of death from the condition.

More than 50 percent of Americans who are 18 and older are daily coffee drinkers. That’s around 100 million coffee drinkers in the U.S., where approximately $4 billion is spent importing coffee each year.

With that kind of time and money being spent on coffee, it helps knowing that the beverage also has health benefits, which this latest study confirmed.

As part of the study, the researchers used The Singapore Chinese Health Study, which involved data from over 63,000 Chinese participants aged 45 to 74 who lived in Singapore and completed questionnaires about their diet, lifestyle and medical history between the years of 1993 to 1998.

The participants were followed up on by the researchers for an average of 15 years, during which time the research team recorded a total of 14,928 deaths, with 114 of them from cirrhosis of the liver.

In addition, the participants who drank at least 20 g of alcohol per day had a greater risk of dying from cirrhosis, compared with non-drinkers. In contrast, those who drank two cups of coffee or more per day had a 66 percent lower risk of death from cirrhosis, compared with non-drinkers.

The research team therefore concluded that their study "provides further impetus to evaluate coffee as a potential therapeutic agent in patients with cirrhosis."

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