For many of us the day does not begin until we have enjoyed our first cup of coffee. We know it helps increase our energy and alertness, but there is increasing scientific evidence to show that coffee may also help provide significant protection against the development of liver disease. In a presentation at a recent Symposium in Rome, Professor Amleto D’Amicis, Head of Nutrition Information Unit at INRAN*, highlighted three major ways how coffee drinking specifically could be protective against:
o Cirrhosis of the liver (a disease causing progressive damage and scarring of the liver tissue and function).
o Gallbladder disease – by reducing the risk of gallstone formation.
o An increase of liver enzyme activity. A high liver enzyme activity is a recognised indicator that there has been deterioration in the functioning of liver cells and possible development of disease in the liver.
“Such significant data shows us how drinking coffee could provide a real benefit to our health”, said Prof D’Amicis. He went on to outline the many functions the liver undertakes to maintain the body’s health and the beneficial role that coffee plays. These are discussed in more detail overleaf theplaynews.
Gallstone disease affects many millions of people around the world and costs many $billions to treat. Caffeine in coffee has been demonstrated to have the ability to increase bile flow and inhibit biliary cholesterol crystallisation, both key factors in limiting the risk of developing gallstones.
In one large study, Health Professionals Follow-up Study, consumption of coffee was monitored in 46,008 men aged 40-75, all with no history of gallstone disease. The results of this study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1999 (Leitzmann 1999), showed that men who regularly drank two to three cups of coffee per day – filtered, instant or espresso – had about a 30-40% reduction in risk of gallstone disease. For men who drank four cups per day, the reduction was even more significant – the risk was cut in half.