HEALTHY LIVING

Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis: Coffee May Lower Risk Of The Liver Disease

05/20/2013 05:52 pm ET | Updated Jul 20, 2013
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By Jeffrey Kopman

For every study that focuses on harmful health effects of caffeine, it seems there's one that supports the health benefits of coffee. Today's study, from Mayo Clinic, finds that coffee may lower the risk of the devastating liver disease primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC).

A study of the coffee habits of patients with PSC, primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC), and a control group of healthy people, found that people who were more likely to drink more coffee, and drink it more often, were less likely to have PSC.

There was no link found between coffee consumption and PBC, leading researchers to conclude that the two liver conditions differ more than initially thought.

"Moving forward, we can look at what this finding might tell us about the causes of these diseases and how to better treat them," said study author Craig Lammert, M.D., a Mayo Clinic gastroenterologist, in a press release.

Patients from 2002 to 2012 were asked to answer a coffee questionnaire. Overall there were 1,334 patients used -- 530 with PBC, 348 with PSC, and 456 controls. Most of the participants were female.

On average, patients with PSC had 50 cups of coffee per month, and were coffee drinkers for approximately half of their lives. Patients without PSC or PBC claimed they drank an average of 78 cups per month, and were coffee drinkers for nearly two thirds of their lives.

Coffee and caffeine have also shown benefits for protecting the liver from the harmful effects of alcohol, and for perhaps providing an overall defense against liver damage.

Coffee's Hidden Health Benefits

Caffeine isn't always good for you, but recent studies have shown that the right amount of coffee can actually make you healthier:

- Take Your Coffee With Some Milk and Beer. Heavy coffee consumption has been shown to protect alcohol drinkers by decreasing enzyme activity and improving liver protection, according to research from the University of Tampere in Finland. The news is especially good for men, who saw the greatest decrease in gamma-glutamyltransferase levels when drinking nearly as much coffee as alcohol.
"Our findings suggest a possible protective effect for coffee intake in alcohol consumers," study researcher Onni Niemelä, of Seinäjoki Central Hospital and the University of Tampere, told Live Science.

- Coffee Breaks Reduce Stroke Risk. A study of 83,000 daily coffee or tea drinkers showed a reduced stroke risk of approximately 20 percent. These people were specifically protected from hemorrhagic stroke.

- Cheer Up, With Coffee. While other caffeinated drinks, like diet soda, have been linked to depression, coffee might actually lower your risk. Coffee drinkers are about 10 percent less likely to develop depression.

But that's not all. Coffee has also been shown to help with heart disease, breast cancer, stress, cavities, and Parkinson's Disease.

"Perk Up Your Liver With Coffee" originally appeared on Everyday Health.

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