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Coffee May Help Prevent Devastating Liver Disease

Update Date: May 20, 2013 11:23 AM EDT

Coffee may just be a part of the morning routine to help people wake up, but recent research indicates that the beverage may be helpful in the prevention of health problems. A recent study indicates that a cup of joe may be an unlikely ally in the fight against a rare liver disease.

The study, conducted by researchers at the Mayo Clinic, examined the effect that coffee might have on two liver disorders, primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) and primary bilary cirrhosis (PBC). Though the conditions may have similar names, they are a bit different. According to Medical News Today, PSC is an autoimmune disorder that causes the bile ducts, which filters worn-out red blood cells and waste from food into the intestine, to become inflamed which, in turn, can lead to liver failure, biliary cancer or cirrhosis, or scarring, of the liver. PBC, on the other hand, is also an autoimmune disorder; however, this condition is marked by the immune system destroying the bile ducts altogether, which leads to a build up of toxins in the liver and scarring.

The researchers looked at patients who suffered from the two conditions, as well as a healthy control group. The study found that people who suffered from PSC were significantly less likely to drink coffee than the control group; the control group was 20 percent more likely to drink coffee on a regular basis. The study also found that coffee was linked to a lower rate of PSC, but not PBC.

The study indicates that there is a significant difference in the mechanisms behind the two liver conditions. Further research may help uncover the causes of these autoimmune diseases and lead to treatments. Currently, the only treatment for these conditions is the replacement of the liver, though that is generally reserved for only the most severe cases. Of course, too, even when on the organ transplant list, it can often be a long wait for a suitable match.

The research was presented at the conference for Digestive Disease Week in Orlando, Florida.

This research is the most recent in a string of research that suggests a positive link between coffee and various conditions. Research indicates that coffee may help prevent conditions as diverse as Alzheimer's disease, skin cancer and heart failure.

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