An expert roundtable report on coffee and liver health suggests that moderate coffee intake may significantly reduce the risk of chronic liver diseases including liver cancer and cirrhosis.
The roundtable, held at the Royal Society of Medicine in London, included academics, medical researchers, and representatives from national liver associations from across seven European countries.
Liver disease is a significant concern across Europe, where chronic liver disease is the fifth most common cause of death. Approximately 29 million people in the European Union suffer from a chronic liver condition.
The roundtable was hosted by the Institute for Scientific Information on Coffee (ISIC) in association with the British Liver Trust.
Research suggests that coffee intake is associated with a reduced risk of cirrhosis, fibrosis, chronic liver disease, and of developing non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
Meta-analyses have suggested that coffee consumption versus no coffee consumption is associated with up to a 40% risk reduction of liver cancer, in apparently a dose-dependent relationship.
Studies from the US and Italy suggest that coffee consumption is consistently associated with a reduced risk of cirrhosis, with a potential risk reduction of 25-70%.
Another study suggests an inverse link between coffee consumption and the risk of chronic liver disease, with an average risk reduction of 25-30% in low coffee consumers, and up to 65% in high coffee consumers.
Research in patients with advanced hepatitis C-related liver disease also suggests that regular, moderate coffee consumption is associated with lower rates of disease progression.
Several possible mechanisms are under investigation to help understand whether, and to what extent, caffeine is associated with the risk reduction of these liver diseases.
The main primary caffeine metabolite, paraxanthine, appears to suppress the synthesis of CTGF (connective tissue growth factor) via a cascade of control cycles, which subsequently slows down the progression of liver fibrosis, cirrhosis and liver cancer.
Other suggested mechanisms include the anti-carcinogenic effects of cafestol and kahweol, and possible antiviral effects of chlorogenic acids and caffeic acid.
Note: Moderate coffee consumption can be defined as 3-5 cups per day, based on the European Food Safety Authority's review of caffeine safety.
The Institute for Scientific Information on Coffee (ISIC) is a not-for-profit organization established in 1990. It is devoted to the study and disclosure of science related to "coffee and health."
ISIC members are six of the major European coffee companies: illycaffè, Jacobs Douwe Egberts, Lavazza, Nestlé, Paulig, and Tchibo.
Professor Graeme Alexander, University College London, senior advisor to the British Liver Trust, UK.
Dr. Carlo La Vecchia, Professor of Medical Statistics and Epidemiology, Dept. of Clinical Sciences and Community Health, Università degli Studi di Milano, Italy.
HIlje Logtenberg-van der Grient, Physician Educator, Scientific Committee ELPA/Dutch Liver Patient Association, The Netherlands.
Andreas Röhrenbacher, Steering Committee Member, Die Hepatitis Hilfe Osterreich, Plattform Gesunde Leber (HHO), Austria.
Raquel Peck, CEO, World Hepatitis Alliance, UK.
Dr. avid Semela, Council Member, Swiss Association for the Study of the Liver, Switzerland.
Dr. Trisha Macnair, Speciality Doctor/Medical Journalist, NHS, United Kingdom.
Dr. Ellie Cannon, NHS GP, Abbey Medical Centre, London, UK.
Dr. JW Langer, medical doctor, author, lecturer and medical journalist, Denmark.
Dr. Luca Miele, MD, PhD, Consultant Internist and Hepatologist, University Hospital Policlinico A. Gemelli Foundation, Italy.
Dr. Beatrice Alfonso PhD, Fondazione Italiana Fegato, ONLUS- Italian Liver Foundation, Italy.
Gerardo Reyna, Federación Nacional de Enfermos y Trasplantados Hepáticos, Spain.