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Chronic liver disease, which may be caused by hepatitis infection, alcohol misuse, or non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, is a major public health concern worldwide. Previous epidemiological research has reported a link between coffee consumption and decreased risk of liver cancer and fatty liver disease. A new report describes the relationship between different types of coffee and liver disease risk.

Coffee contains a number of bioactive plant compounds including chlorogenic acid, cafestol, and kahweol, which have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects. Coffees vary widely in their preparation including decaffeination, roasting duration, brewing temperature, and filtering. Decaffeinated and filtered coffees may have fewer bioactive compounds, but how these and other processing characteristics impact chronic liver disease risk reductions is unclear.

The authors collected data regarding coffee consumption from almost 500,000 participants in the United Kingdom Biobank, a long-term registry study of United Kingdom citizens. Participants completed surveys asking about the amount and type of coffee (decaffeinated, instant, ground, or other) they consumed. The researchers used medical and death records to assess disease presence. The average length of time that participants were followed for the study was 10 years.

Most participants (about 78 percent) consumed coffee, and the average amount of coffee consumed daily was two cups. Compared to non-coffee drinkers, coffee drinkers had a 21 percent lower risk of developing chronic liver disease and a 49 percent lower risk of dying from chronic liver disease. Coffee type did not have an effect on disease risk, with instant and decaffeinated coffee producing similar risk reductions compared with normal ground coffee.

The authors concluded that the consumption of coffee, regardless of preparation, is protective against chronic liver diseases. They suggested that future research should investigate the effects of a coffee intervention in treating liver disease.

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