British Coffee Association - Find out how coffee limits Liver disease
Liver health

Liver health

Research suggests that moderate coffee consumption may have a positive effect on limiting disease progression in those with liver cirrhosis, chronic liver disease, fatty liver disease, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), the most common type of liver cancer. Liver disease is estimated to affect 6% of the EU’s population (approx. 29 million people).1
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)
A study accepted in 2013 showed that caffeine intake may protect against fatty liver disease.2 Whilst the effect of coffee consumption on the body’s metabolism and fat oxidation have been well documented in both humans and animals,3,4,5 these new data help explain the direct action of coffee on the liver. Fatty liver disease is a term for a wide range of conditions caused by the build-up of fat within the liver cells. Fatty liver disease is very common in the UK with an estimated one in five people having early forms of the disease.6
Liver cirrhosis
Coffee consumption is related to slower development of cirrhosis in patients with chronic liver disease. In April 2014, the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD) found consuming two or more cups of coffee per day reduces the risk of death from liver cirrhosis, caused by non-viral hepatitis, by 66%.7 The study was one of the first to demonstrate a difference between the effects of coffee on non-viral and viral hepatitis related cirrhosis mortality.7
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and chronic liver disease (CLD)
The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) found consuming four or more cups of coffee per day reduces the risk of developing HCC by 42%.8 The study, presented at the AACR Annual Meeting 2014, addressed the lack of data from prospective studies in the US population by evaluating the association between coffee intake and HCC incidence in a multi-ethnic US population.8
A new study, published online in October, 2014, found that increased coffee consumption reduces the risk of HCC and CLD in multi-ethnic US populations.9 Compared to individuals who did not drink coffee, those who drank ≥4 cups per day had a 41% reduction in risk of HCC and a 71% reduction in risk of CLD death.9
Coffee consumption seems to exert a beneficial effect on patients with liver diseases or at risk of developing liver diseases.10
An informative animated presentation on research into coffee and liver function can be viewed here.
Dr Sarah Jarvis, GP, comments: “The results of these studies provide additional evidence that coffee consumption may reduce the risk of developing liver diseases such as cirrhosis and HCC. Though the AASLD study was conducted in a specific demographic of Chinese subjects aged 45 to 74, these results will resonate with the 10-20% of people at risk of developing chronic liver disease in the UK.11 It’s interesting to note that the study found ingredients of coffee other than caffeine appear to be responsible for the risk reduction.”

1 The European Liver Patients Association (2014). (accessed October 2014)
2 Sinha, R.A. et al. (2013) Hepatology. Doi: 10.1002/hep.26667
3 Sachan, D.S. et al. (2001). J Nutr Biochem;11:251-526
4 Ryu, S. et al. (2001) J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo);47:139-146
5 Jeukendrup A.E. et al. (2011)  Obes Rev;12:841-851
6 NHS Choices (2014).  (accessed October 2014)
7 Goh, G.B.B. et al. (2014). Hepatology, (DOI: 10.1002/hep.27054)
8 Setiawan, V.W. et al. (2014). Results presented at AACR Annual Meeting, 5-9 April
9 Setiawan, V.W. et al. (2014). Gastroenterology, published online ahead of print  (accessed October 2014)
10 Morisco, F. et al. (2014). Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology, Volume 48, Supplement 1
11 Rightcare NHS (2014).  (Accessed October 2014)