People drink coffee for many reasons: the taste, the caffeine, the excuse to socialize, the list goes on. According to a new study, coffee drinking may actually protect the liver as well.
The study, published in the Hepatology journal, looked at the coffee-drinking habits of 27, 793 people, of which more than 14,000 consumed coffee. The researchers tracked the blood levels of four enzymes that indicate liver function.
Researchers found – after controlling for factors such as age, gender, race, and smoking and alcohol consumption – people who drank three cups of coffee a day were about 25 percent less likely to have abnormal liver enzyme levels compared to those who drank none. The results were similar for the 2,000 who drank decaffeinated coffee.
It is unclear what compounds in coffee are responsible for the effect. “There are more than a thousand compounds in coffee,” the lead study author, Qian Xiao, said. “There are a few candidates, but I don’t know which is responsible.”
The study is not based on cause and effect, but rather on observation, so Xiao said he would not make recommendations based on the results. “But it is reassuring that coffee and decaf are not harmful to liver function,” he said.
Coffee drinkers can continue to sip with confidence.