From Medscape today came several comment-worthy news items, but this is the headliner, and (potentially) effects the most people:
June 13, 2006 — Coffee may be protective of cirrhosis, particularly alcoholic cirrhosis, according to the results of a cohort study reported in the June 12 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.
“A minority of persons at risk develop liver cirrhosis, but knowledge of risk modulators is sparse,” write Arthur L. Klatsky, MD, from the Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program in Oakland, Calif, and colleagues. “Several reports suggest that coffee drinking is associated with lower cirrhosis risk.”
In this study, 125,580 multiethnic members of a comprehensive prepaid healthcare plan who had no known liver disease supplied baseline data at voluntary health examinations from 1978 to 1985. Through 2001, 330 of these members were diagnosed as having liver cirrhosis, including 199 members with alcoholic cirrhosis and 131 subjects with nonalcoholic cirrhosis, confirmed by medical record review. ….
[technical details omitted]
These relative risks for coffee drinking were consistent in different subgroups. Tea drinking was not related to alcoholic or nonalcoholic cirrhosis. Cross-sectional analyses revealed that coffee drinking was related to lower prevalence of high aspartate aminotransferase and alanine aminotransferase levels. The odds ratio of 4 or more cups per day (vs none) for a high aspartate aminotransferase level was 0.5 (95% CI, 0.4 – 0.6; P < .001), and it was 0.6 for a high alanine aminotransferase level, (95% CI, 0.6 - 0.7; P < .001). Inverse relations were stronger in those who drank large quantities of alcohol.
“These data support the hypothesis that there is an ingredient in coffee that protects against cirrhosis, especially alcoholic cirrhosis,” the authors write. “The absent relation of tea drinking to cirrhosis might mean that the relation is less likely due to caffeine than to some other coffee ingredient.”
I’ll drink to that!