Drinking up to four cups of coffee a day can help reduce the risk of chronic liver disease, a study has found.
Researchers from the University of Southampton and the University of Edinburgh found drinking caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee was associated with a reduced risk of developing liver conditions, including liver disease, when compared to not drinking coffee.
The benefit peaked at three to four cups a day, the research suggests.
Scientists found that coffee drinking had a 21% reduction in risk of chronic liver disease, a 20% reduced risk of chronic or fatty liver disease and a 49% reduced risk of death from liver disease.
The benefits were seen in people who drank ground coffee, which contains a high level of Kahweol and cafestol. Both ingredients showed benefits against chronic liver disease in animals.
Instant coffee also showed a reduced risk of liver disease, but it was smaller than the reduction seen in ground coffee drinkers.
“Coffee is widely accessible and the benefits we see from our study may mean it could offer a potential preventative treatment for chronic liver disease,” said Dr Oliver Kennedy, the lead author.
“This would be especially valuable in countries with lower income and worse access to healthcare and where the burden of chronic liver disease is highest.”
Dr Kennedy and his team studied UK Biobank data on 495,585 participants with known coffee consumption, who were followed for around 10 years to monitor who developed liver conditions.
Overall, 78% (384,818) drank ground or instant caffeinated or decaffeinated coffee, while 22% (109,767) did not drink any type of coffee.
During the study period, there were 3,600 cases of chronic liver disease, including 301 deaths.
The researchers warned that as coffee consumption was only reported when participants first enrolled in the study, the study does not account for any changes in the amount or type of coffee they consumed over the study period.
The participants were predominantly white and from high social-economic backgrounds, so the finding may be difficult to generalise to other countries, the study adds.
According to the British Liver Trust, deaths due to liver disease have increased by 400% since 1970 and every day, more than 40 people die from the disease in the UK.