Coffee drinkers were 21% less likely to develop chronic liver disease, 20% less likely to develop chronic or fatty liver disease, and 49% less likely to die from chronic liver disease than non-coffee drinkers, according to the study published Monday in the journal BMC Public Health.
“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 study author Dr. Oliver Kennedy, who is on the medical faculty of the University of Southampton in the UK, in a statement.
“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,” Kennedy said.
Risk factors for liver disease include drinking alcohol, obesity, diabetes, smoking, hepatitis B and C infections, and having nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, which is the buildup of extra fat in liver cells that is not caused by alcohol.
Diagnoses of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, which strikes people who are obese, overweight, or who have diabetes, high cholesterol or high triglycerides, have more than doubled over the past 20 years, according to the American Liver Foundation, affecting up to 25% of Americans.