HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Health News for Alcohol and Coffee Lovers

Scientists published a study in this  Monday's Archives of Internal Medicine demonstrating that coffee may help offset liver damage caused by alcohol abuse.  Heavy drinkers of alcoholic beverages who also drank lots of coffee were less likely to develop cirrhosis.  According to an AOL news report:

In a study of more than 125,000 people, one cup of coffee per day cut the risk of alcoholic cirrhosis by 20 percent. Four cups per day reduced the risk by 80 percent. The coffee effect held true for women and men of various ethnic backgrounds.

It is unclear whether it is the caffeine or some other ingredient in coffee that provides the protection, said study co-author Dr. Arthur Klatsky of the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland, Calif.

Of course, there is a better way to avoid alcoholic cirrhosis of the liver, Klatsky said.

"The way to avoid getting ill is not to drink a lot of coffee, but to cut down on the drinking" of alcohol, he said.

The participants ranged from teetotalers, who made up 12 percent of the total, to heavy drinkers, who made up 8 percent. The researchers calculated the risk reductions rate for the whole group, not just the drinkers.

NPR's morning edition reports further on this study  Researchers are attempting to find out what about coffee provides protection for the liver and to discover why certain heavy drinkers are more likely to develop the liver disease than others.  Finally, the researchers warn that coffee drinking does not eliminate all the harms of heavy drinking. [bm]

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