The study – published in Hepatology – reported that increased coffee intake significantly decreases the build up of connective tissue (fibrosis) in the liver of people with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (Steatohepatitis). The research is said to confirm that confirms that caffeine consumption via coffee reduces fibrosis in people with fatty liver disease in a similar way to that of people with chronic liver disease.
“Our study is the first to demonstrate a histopatholgic relationship between fatty liver disease and estimated coffee intake,” explained lead researcher Dr. Stephen Harrison – a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army based at Brooke Army Medical Center, USA.
Harrison added that people with the condition could benefit from moderate coffee consumption “that decreases risk of advanced fibrosis.”
Evidence for the benefits of coffee and caffeine consumption is continually emerging and growing. Recently it has been suggested that coffee could act as a protective agent against diabetes and in cancers that are linked to obesity, estrogen and insulin – such as endometrial cancer.
In addition caffeine consumption has long been associated with decreased risk of liver disease and reduced fibrosis in patients with chronic liver diseases such as hepatitis C. However, the Harrison and his team noted that an association between caffeine and fibrosis in people with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) “has not been established.”
Given that the steady increase in rates of diabetes, obesity, and metabolic syndrome over the past 20 years has given rise to greater prevalence of NAFLD, the research group said investigating such a potential association is important.
The team, based at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, USA surveyed participants from a previous NAFLD study, in addition to patients treated at the centre’s clinic. The 306 participants were asked about caffeine coffee consumption and categorised into four groups: patients with no sign of fibrosis on ultrasound (control), steatosis, nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) stage 0-1, and NASH stage 2-4.
Harrison and his team reported a significant difference in caffeine consumption between patients in the steatosis group compared to those with NASH stage 0-1. They said that coffee consumption was significantly greater for patients with NASH stage 0-1, with 58% of caffeine intake from regular coffee, than with NASH stage 2-4 patients at only 36% of caffeine consumption from regular coffee.
“Further prospective research should examine the amount of coffee intake on clinical outcomes,” said Harrison.
Volume 55, Issue 2, pages 429–436, doi: 10.1002/hep.24731
“Association of coffee and caffeine consumption with fatty liver disease, nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, and degree of hepatic fibrosis”
Authors: J.W. Molloy, C.J. Calcagno, C.D. Williams, F.J. Jones, et al