A population-based observational study from Singapore suggests that drinking coffee may help lower the risk of liver cirrhosis. More than 63,000 Chinese-speaking subjects were recruited between 1993 and 1998. They were followed for approximately 15 years.
The volunteers were queried about their use of beverages, particularly soft drinks, green tea, black tea, coffee and alcohol. Heavy use of alcohol increased the risk of liver cirrhosis, but participants who drank at least two cups of coffee daily were 66 percent less likely to die of nonviral hepatitis. There was no association between coffee consumption and viral hepatitis.
This is not the first report to suggest that coffee can have health benefits. Earlier studies have shown that coffee drinkers have a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes and of experiencing a recurrence of prostate cancer. A study in mice showed that coffee can reduce the amount of fat stored in the liver, which could well help account for the protective effect against nonviral hepatitis.
It is important to know that coffee can interact with certain medications. Italian scientists have found that coffee reduces the absorption of levothyroxine (Synthroid) if they are taken at the same time (Thyroid, March 2008). We offer more information about thyroid medication in our Guide to Thyroid Hormones.