report that drinking coffee cuts the risk of cirrhosis of
the liver from alcohol--by 22% per cup each
day--but they stopped short of saying doctors
should prescribe coffee for that reason.
The report from
the Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program in Oakland,
Calif., was based on a look at data from 125,580 people.
support the hypothesis that there is an ingredient in
coffee that protects against cirrhosis, especially alcoholic
cirrhosis," concluded the report, published in the
Archives of Internal Medicine.
What could cause
the apparent protective effect is not clear, the report
"Coffee is a
complex substance with many potentially biologically
active ingredients," the study said. "The fact that coffee
is also frequently taken with added cream, milk,
sugar, or other substances adds more possibilities for
with similar findings have led to speculation that caffeine
could play a role. However, the protective effect was not
found among tea drinkers, though the authors said they
were not nearly as numerous in the study as coffee
The report did
not suggest alcohol users increase their coffee
consumption or seek out drinks like Irish coffee that
combine booze with coffee.
"Even if coffee
is protective, the primary approach to reduction of
alcoholic cirrhosis is avoidance or cessation of heavy
alcohol drinking," the researchers said.