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Regular and Decaf Coffee are Good for the Liver

Update Date: Oct 11, 2014 11:50 AM EDT

Coffee, in general, can be good for the liver, a new study reported. The researchers from the U.S. National Cancer Institute reported that regular and decaf coffee help boost liver health.

"There have been several studies which have intimated that drinking coffee may be protective to the liver and even prevent the development of liver cancer," commented expert Dr. David Bernstein, chief of the division of hepatology at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, N.Y, reported by HealthDay. Dr. Bernstein was not involved with the study. "While these studies are interesting, the concept that coffee is protective to the liver is a difficult one to prove."

For this study, lead research Dr. Qian Xiao examined data on roughly 28,000 Americans. The participants, aged 20 and older, provided information on their coffee intake. The researchers also measured the participants' blood levels for several enzymes that are associated with liver health.

The researchers discovered that participants who drank at least three cups of coffee per day had reduced levels of the enzymes, which indicated better liver health. The team found that the effect was still strong if the participants drank decaf coffee. However, the team noted that they did not find a cause and effect relationship.

"Our findings link total and decaffeinated coffee intake to lower liver enzyme levels," Dr. Xiao said in a journal release. "These data suggest that ingredients in coffee, other than caffeine, may promote liver health. Further studies are needed to identify these components."

Dr. Bernstein added, "Perhaps the most important piece of information to be gleaned from this study is that the protective effects are unrelated to caffeine but in fact related to some intrinsic component of coffee itself. With that information, it would be important for future studies to attempt to isolate the ingredient of coffee which gives this effect in the hopes that the protective factor could be manufactured and used in patients with liver disease."

The study was published in the journal, Hepatology.

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