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Drinking Coffee and Tea May Protect Against Liver Disease

Liver disease is one of the leading causes of death in America. A recent study suggests that drinking coffee or tea might help protect against liver fibrosis.


Participants in the study included 2,424 people who took part in the Rotterdam Study, which included people 45 years or older who were living in a suburb of Rotterdam, The Netherlands. All of the participants did physical workups that included data collection for anthropometrics, blood samples, hepatological imaging using abdominal ultrasound. They also did tests that measured liver stiffness. Finally, all of the participants completed an externally validated 389-item food frequency questionnaire.


The researchers divided the group into three categories around coffee and tea consumption: none, moderate (0-3 cups per day), and frequent (more than three cups per day). Tea consumption was broken up by herbal, green, or black tea, as well as none or any consumption.


After examining the data, the researchers found that drinking coffee frequently was associated with lower odds of high liver stiffness values, which indicates less scarring of the liver. They also found that even small amounts of frequent coffee and herbal liver consumption were associated with lower liver stiffness values. While they found no association between coffee and tea consumption and and fat accumulation in the liver, they did find that coffee helped lower liver stiffness both if the participants had liver fat or not.


Researchers from Erasmus MC University Medical Centre in The Netherlands conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on June 1, 2017, in the Journal of Hepatology.


The health benefits associated with coffee are generally attributed to its polyphenol content. Previous studies have linked polyphenol intake with a variety of health benefits, including helping with weight management, fighting certain cancers, and reducing inflammation. Polyphenols can be found naturally in many foods, including honey, a variety of fruits and vegetables, red wine, chocolate, tea, certain oils and many types of grain.


Tea also has high levels of polyphenols. These compounds protect our cells from dangerous free radicals. In fact, an earlier study found that the cells of regular tea drinkers actually have a younger biological age than non-tea drinkers.

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