Strong coffee does more than help sober up over-indulgent drinkers. Drinking coffee every day has been shown to reduce the risk of developing liver cirrhosis.
In fact, drinking just two extra cups a day may nearly halve the risk of dying from the disease — making it far more effective than many medications, according to a new review of studies by researchers from the University of Southampton in the U.K.
The review, published in the journal Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics, analyzed nine long-term studies involving nearly half a million men and women from six countries.
The combined results of the studies showed drinking two extra cups of coffee per day was linked to a 44 percent lower risk of developing liver cirrhosis and a nearly 50 percent lower risk of death to the disease.
Liver cirrhosis can be fatal because it raises the risk of liver failure and cancer.
The condition often develops as a result of long-term and persistent injury from viruses like hepatitis C and alcohol abuse.
About 633,323 Americans have liver cirrhosis, with 69 percent unaware of the fact they have the disease.
The researchers noted coffee has many biologically active ingredients, in addition to caffeine. These include oxidative and anti-inflammatory agents, such as chlorogenic acid, kahweol and cafestol that "confer protection against liver fibrosis."
Studies have also shown that various compounds found in coffee block hepatitis B and C viruses and that increased coffee consumption has been linked to a reduction in Type 2 diabetes.
The researchers said the protective effects of coffee are greater than many medications used for the prevention of disease.
"For example," noted the authors, "statin therapy reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease by 25 percent."
They also point out that "unlike many medications, coffee is generally well tolerated and has an excellent safety profile."
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