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This is an article from today's Minneapolis StarTribune. Its originally
an AP story. Thought some of you might enjoy it.
Last update: June 12, 2006 -- 4:20 PM
Coffee reduces risk of cirrhosis from too much alcohol
CHICAGO --- Coffee may counteract alcohol's poisonous effects on the
liver and help prevent cirrhosis, researchers say.
In a study of more than 125,000 people, one cup of coffee per day cut
the risk of alcoholic cirrhosis by 20 percent. Four cups per day reduced
the risk by 80 percent. The coffee effect held true for women and men of
various ethnic backgrounds.
It is unclear whether it is the caffeine or some other ingredient in
coffee that provides the protection, said study co-author Dr. Arthur
Klatsky of the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland, Calif.
Of course, there is a better way to avoid alcoholic cirrhosis of the
liver, Klatsky said.
"The way to avoid getting ill is not to drink a lot of coffee, but to
cut down on the drinking" of alcohol, he said.
The participants ranged from teetotalers, who made up 12 percent of the
total, to heavy drinkers, who made up 8 percent. The researchers
calculated the risk reductions rate for the whole group, not just the
Not all heavy drinkers develop cirrhosis, an irreversible scarring of
the liver that hurts the organ's ability to filter toxins from the
blood. Klatsky said the new findings may help explain why some people's
livers survive heavy alcohol use.
Hepatitis C and some inherited diseases can also cause cirrhosis. But
the study found coffee did not protect the liver against those other
causes of scarring.
The same study found coffee drinkers had healthier results on blood
tests used to measure liver function, whether or not they were heavy
alcohol users. Coffee's effect on reducing liver enzymes in the blood
was more apparent among the heavy drinkers in the study.
Cirrhosis from all causes kills more than 27,000 Americans a year and
sends nearly 400,000 to the hospital.
The findings, published in Monday's Archives of Internal Medicine, build
on reports that coffee also may reduce the risk of liver cancer.
The data came from members of a Northern California health plan. Their
coffee consumption was noted only at the beginning of the study, which
the researchers admitted was a limitation. They were followed for an
average of 14 years.
The researchers found no reduced risk of cirrhosis for tea drinkers. Tea
has less caffeine than coffee and there were fewer heavy tea drinkers in
the study, so if