This might be the best news you have heard in some time: drinking coffee isn’t dangerous to your liver. In fact, there is some evidence that coffee actually is good for your liver, and drinking it could even reverse liver damage, but first, what is liver disease, and what exactly is the correlation between the liver and America’s favorite morning pick-me-up?
Liver disease – cirrhosis – is a devastating complication of liver disease and is a leading cause of death in the United States. Unfortunately, more than 30,000 people die from the disease each year. The primary cause of the disease is excessive alcohol consumption. Viral hepatitis B or C also is a common cause, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is a factor that also leads to cirrhosis. Avoiding excessive alcohol consumption wards against liver disease, as does avoiding fatty foods that will contribute to fatty liver disease and guard against obesity, which is also a factor.
Symptoms of the disease may show up slowly as there are few during the early stages of cirrhosis. With time, however, a person with liver disease will experience extreme weakness and fatigue and a loss of appetite will occur. The affected person may also notice a loss in their sex drive. Worsening conditions like yellowing skin and the white parts of the eyes become jaundice. Bleeding and bruising is more prevalent and occurs more easily and are the symptoms we often think of most as associated with the disease. Symptoms also include:
- Tarry stools
- Edema in the legs and stomach
- Irritated itchy skin
- Vomiting blood
Good News for Coffee Drinkers
With such terrible symptoms, it’s hard to imagine that a simple drink that is consumed daily can possibly project a positive outcome for people suffering with liver disease, but research has shown that there is a correlation between coffee and liver disease.
A Netherlands research team conducted a study regarding preventative factors against liver disease. Dr. Sarwa Darwish Murad, a Ph.D. specializing in hepatology led the team of scientists, which was interested in determining if consuming coffee had any impact on the liver’s health. The Rotterdam study involved 2,424 participants who were all 45 years of age and older. Each participant was given a full physical exam. With participants undergoing blood tests, abdominal scans that examined the liver and special measurements were taken, like body, mass index, the doctors left no stone unturned. Scarring of the liver causes stiffness and is prevalent with liver disease. The primary objective of the abdominal scans was to determine the degree of stiffness in the liver. Without treatment, scarring is what eventually leads to cirrhosis.
Once measurements were taken and examinations were complete, the participants were divided into three categories based on their coffee (and/or tea) consumption: no consumption, moderate consumption (three cups per day) and frequent consumption (three or more cups per day).
Frequent coffee consumption (and the consumption of herbal tea) was linked to a lower level of liver stiffness, the study revealed. This was true for participants whose livers were fatty and those without fatty livers. The doctors determined that this could be an indication that drinking coffee frequently could possibly prevent fibrosis of the liver. This could even occur before signs and symptoms of the disease appear.
This is but one study and doctors insist that more studies are required to understand the correlation between coffee consumption and its positive effect on liver disease.
Remember, there is no cure for the scarred liver that is damaged by cirrhosis. It will usually and eventually lead to the liver totally shutting down. However, this occurs over time and with attention and proper treatment, the progression of the disease can be slowed down.
In the meantime, Carlisle Digestive Disease Associates treats liver disease and we encourage you not to delay in finding a diagnosis for any of the symptoms listed above that could be related to liver disease. Early detection is crucial in preventing further progression of the disease.
The friendly staff at US Digestive Health welcomes your call and looks forward to serving you. We proudly serve the areas of Carlisle, Boiling Springs, Newville, Mechanicsburg, Camp Hill, Shippensburg, Chambersburg, and central Pennsylvania.
If you have any questions about our Gastroenterology services or your treatment, or to schedule an appointment, please call our office at (717) 245-2228 or use our secure online appointment request form.