(RxWiki News) Coffee drinkers may have a new reason to have an extra cup of joe.
Recent research found that drinking coffee may lead to a healthier liver.
According to the study, decaf coffee has the same liver-protective effects as caffeinated coffee.
Qian Xiao, PhD, of the National Cancer Institute, led the study on coffee and liver health.
According to the authors of the study, past research has shown that coffee improved liver health. However, the studies have not examined whether the caffeine in the coffee played a significant role.
The researchers used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which included 27,793 adult participants. The participants reported how much coffee they drank and whether it had caffeine.
The researchers also measured blood levels of liver enzymes, which can help determine how well the liver is functioning.
Elevated liver enzymes can be an indicator of liver disease.
The researchers found that people who drank three or more cups of coffee per day had significantly lower levels of the enzymes in their blood than those who drank no coffee.
The association was similar among participants who drank decaf coffee.
The participants who drank three or more cups of coffee per day — decaf or caffeinated — had healthier liver function than those who drank no coffee. The caffeine appeared to have no effect on liver health.
"In summary, our findings suggest that coffee consumption may be associated with favorable liver health," the authors concluded.
This study was published Aug. 13 in Hepatology.
The Intramural Research Program of the National Institutes of Health, the National Cancer Institute and the Department of Health and Human Services funded the study. The authors declared no conflicts of interest.