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Coffee Intake May Protect Against Liver Cirrhosis

Four or more cups of coffee daily associated with lower cirrhosis risk compared with no consumption

MONDAY, June 12 (HealthDay News) -- Coffee drinking is associated with a lower risk of liver cirrhosis, particularly cirrhosis due to alcohol consumption, as well as a reduced risk of having elevated aspartate aminotransferase and alanine aminotransferase levels, according to a report in the June 12 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Arthur L. Klatsky, M.D., of the Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program in Oakland, Calif., and colleagues analyzed data from 125,580 health care plan participants without liver disease collected between 1978 and 1985. By late 2001, liver cirrhosis had developed in 330 subjects, including 199 with alcoholic cirrhosis.

Compared with patients who did not drink coffee, the relative risk of alcoholic cirrhosis was 0.7 in those who drank less than one cup daily, 0.6 in those who drank one to three cups a day and 0.2 in those who drank four or more cups a day. In those with non-alcoholic cirrhosis, the relative risks were 1.2, 1.3 and 0.7, respectively. In coffee drinkers who consumed four or more cups a day, the relative risk was 0.5 for having elevated aspartate aminotransferase levels and 0.6 for alanine aminotransferase levels.

"The observational nature of the data and the absence of an established mechanism limit a causal interpretation," the authors write. "There are also no clear therapeutic implications; even if coffee is protective, the primary approach to reduction of alcoholic cirrhosis is avoidance or cessation of heavy alcohol drinking."

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