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May 20, 2013

Coffee May Protect Against Liver Disease

by VOA News

Coffee lovers have another reason to rejoice as a new study claims that regular consumption of the popular beverage can reduce the risk of a rare but serious liver disease.

According to research published by the Mayo Clinic, coffee intake can lower the chance of contracting primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC), an autoimmune liver disease. The disease can lead to cirrhosis of the liver, liver failure and biliary cancer. 

"While rare, PSC has extremely detrimental effects," said the study’s author, Dr. Craig Lammert, a Mayo Clinic gastroenterologist. "We're always looking for ways to mitigate risk, and our first-time finding points to a novel environmental factor that also might help us to determine the cause of this and other devastating autoimmune diseases."

The study monitored three groups of people, those with PSC, those with primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC), another autoimmune liver disease, and a group of healthy patients. The data showed a reduced risk of PSC among coffee drinkers, but little effect on the PBC group.

According to Dr. Konstantinos Lazaridis, a Mayo Clinic hepatologist and senior study author, the research also revealed more differences between PSC and PBC than originally 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," he said.

The findings were being presented at the Digestive Disease Week 2013 conference in Orlando, Fla.

Previous studies have shown some benefits to regular, moderate coffee intake.

A study of coffee drinkers released late last year in Europe claimed moderate coffee intake could reduce the risk of diabetes by 25 percent, while a Swedish study claimed coffee reduced the risk of developing breast cancer.