Drinking coffee may reduce risk of liver disease - study

 Health benefits also increased with the amount of coffee consumed.
Health benefits also increased with the amount of coffee consumed. Photo credit: Getty Images

If you're trying to quit coffee over health concerns, new research might put your worries at ease - and have you reaching for another cup.

A study has found drinking coffee may reduce your risk of developing chronic liver disease. 

Researchers from the University of Southampton analysed data from 494,585 participants in the UK Biobank - a long-term study aimed at determining genetic and environmental predispositions to disease. 

They found those who drank any amount of any sort of coffee had a 20 percent lower risk of developing chronic liver disease or fatty liver disease. Their risk of dying from chronic liver disease also decreased by 49 percent. 

The study, published in the BMC Public Health journal, also revealed drinkers of the caffeinated beverage typically have better health outcomes if they do develop liver disease.

The participants were aged 40 to 69, with 384,818 saying they were coffee drinkers and 109,767 saying they were not. 

Over an 11-year period, 3600 participants developed chronic liver disease, 301 died from it and 1839 developed simple fatty liver disease. 

After taking into account factors such as alcohol consumption, smoking status and body mass index, researchers still found coffee drinkers were less likely to be affected by liver disease. 

They also found that the more coffee consumed, the bigger the benefits - however, once you reach the three-to-four-cup threshold, maybe opt for a different beverage. The study found beyond that point, anything extra "provided no additional benefit". 

While this is an exciting finding for caffeine addicts, the study cannot prove the beverage is the only factor reducing the risk of chronic liver disease as participants were only quizzed about their coffee habits at one point in time. 

However, it does show that coffee may be an "effective intervention to prevent severe liver disease, say in those at high risk", researchers say. 

The study is the first to the researchers' knowledge "to directly investigate the effect of different coffee types on chronic liver disease outcomes in a single large cohort".

According to the study, chronic liver disease is a growing cause of death worldwide, particularly in low to middle-income countries.