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Cirrhosis Risk Reduced in Coffee Drinkers - No Reduction For Tea Consumers - Symptoms of Cirrhosis of the Liver

June 13th 2006

Cirrhosis Risk Reduced in Coffee Drinkers - No Reduction For Tea Consumers - Symptoms of Cirrhosis of the Liver


Drinking coffee may reduce the risk of developing cirrhosis of the liver, according to an article in the June12 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.  Cirrhosis progressively replaces healthy liver tissue with scar tissue, and can be brought on by excessive alcohol consumption.

Other factors may play a role in determining who gets cirrhosis including genetics, diet and nutrition, smoking and the interaction of alcohol with other toxins that damage the liver.  Hepatitis C can also cause cirrhosis, but heavy alcohol consumption is the primary cause in developed countries.

Researchers from the Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program in Oakland, California, analyzed data from 125,580 individuals who did not report liver disease when they had baseline examinations, between 1978 and 1985.  There were 55,247 men and 70,333 women in the study.


Each of the participants filled out a questionnaire to provide information about how much alcohol, coffee and tea they drank per day during the past year. Some of the individuals also had their blood tested for levels of certain liver enzymes; the enzymes are released into the bloodstream when the liver is diseased or damaged.

There were 330 participants diagnosed with cirrhosis by the end of 2001.  Of those, 199 were caused by alcohol.  The researchers found that for each cup of coffee they drank per day, participants were 22 percent less likely to develop alcoholic cirrhosis.  Also, drinking coffee was associated with a slight reduction in risk for other types of cirrhosis. 


“Among those who had their blood drawn, liver enzyme levels were higher among individuals who drank more alcohol, indicating liver disease or damage; however, those who drank both alcohol and coffee had lower levels than those who drank alcohol but did not drink coffee, with the strongest link among the heaviest drinkers”, according to the researchers.

Tea drinkers showed no reduced risk for developing cirrhosis.  The researchers say this suggests that caffeine is not responsible for the relationship between coffee and a reduced risk of cirrhosis. 

The findings do not suggest that physicians prescribe coffee to prevent alcoholic cirrhosis, the authors continue. “Even if coffee is protective, the primary approach to reduction of alcoholic cirrhosis is avoidance or cessation of heavy alcohol drinking,” they conclude. “Assuming causality, the data do suggest that coffee intake may partly explain the variability of cirrhosis risk in alcohol consumers. Basic research about hepatic coffee-ethanol interactions is warranted, but we should keep in mind that coffee might represent only one of a number of potential cirrhosis risk modulators.”


According to the National Institutes for Health (NIH), the symptoms for cirrhosis include a tired feeling or weakness, loss of appetite, a sick feeling in the stomach or weight loss. Cirrhosis can also lead to other problems including nosebleeds and bruising.  Bloating or swelling may occur as fluid builds up in the abdomen or legs. Fluid build up in the abdomen is called ascites (ah-SI-teez) and in the legs is called edema.

Since waste material from food may build up in the blood or brain, patients suffering from cirrhosis may have confusion or difficulty thinking. Medications may have a stronger effect on you because your liver does not break them down as quickly. 

When you eat protein it breaks down into chemicals like ammonia. When red blood cells get old, they break down and leave a substance called bilirubin (bil-ih-ROO-bun). A healthy liver removes these byproducts, but a diseased liver leaves them in the body.  Blood pressure may increase in the vein entering the liver, a condition called portal hypertension.  Enlarged veins, called varices (VARE-ah-seez), may develop in the esophagus and stomach. Varices can bleed suddenly, causing vomiting of blood or passing of blood in a bowel movement.

The kidneys may not work properly or may fail.  As cirrhosis progresses, the skin and the whites of your eyes may turn yellow, a condition called jaundice (JON-diss). You may also develop severe itching or gallstones. 

In the early stages, cirrhosis causes your liver to swell. Then, as more scar tissue replaces normal tissue, the liver shrinks.  About 5 percent of patients with cirrhosis also get cancer of the liver.

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Dan Wilson
Best Syndication

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Important:  The material on Best Syndication is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for any medical conditions. You should promptly seek professional medical care if you have any concern about your health, and you should always consult your physician before starting a fitness program.
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