I knew it! This article appeared today that gives me yet another reason to enjoy my daily cups of java: Coffee may cut alcohol liver damage.
The focus of the piece is the newly released report of a retrospective study of information gathered on 125,000 patients at Kaiser Permenente that showed that the rates of alcoholic cirrhosis dropped by a whopping 22% for each cup of coffee consumed! At 5 cups a day, you’d been in negative territory at 110% risk reduction.
Yowza! My liver (and Mike’s) must be made of titanium by now.
The research team isn’t sure at this juncture exactly what substance(s) in coffee do the good deed–and since there are so many active antioxidant compounds in there it may take them a while to sort it out. It could even be the caffeine, since in the Kaiser study, tea drinking (which beverage also contains a ton of antioxidant compounds, but a different methylxanthine, theobromine instead of caffeine) didn’t seem to confer the benefit. Interestingly, however, one simple test for liver function is its ability to handle caffeine–the phenomenon that probably accounts for one’s need to shun caffeine late in the day as time marches on and liver function declines with age…and abuse. To my mind that would seem to at least suggest that something else is responsible. But who knows?
Based on this report should we chase every shot of booze with a cup of joe? Doubtful, but time will tell. In the meantime, I’ll continue to enjoy my nightly glass or two of wine, the occasional margarita or three (my nearly sugar-free version, of course), and my coffee each day.
As usualy, the best course remains, as the Greeks knew 2 millennia ago: all things in moderation, nothing to excess.