Coffee Intake and Liver Cirrhosis.




Annals of Epidemiology

Related Monographs

Consumer Data: Liver Disorders
Professional Data: Liver Disorders


The liver is our largest organ. Located in the upper right portion abdominal cavity, the liver weighs approximately three to five pounds. The liver's primary function is to filter toxins out of the blood and break them down into harmless substances that can be eliminated from the body. At any given time, the liver contains about 300 milliliters of blood, which amounts to just under one and a half cups. The liver has many other important jobs in addition to its role as the body's blood filter. The liver metabolizes nutrients, stores blood glucose in the form of glycogen, and aids in the digestion of fat by producing bile, to name a few of its duties.

Cirrhosis is one of the most serious of all liver diseases. Cirrhosis is a chronic degenerative condition characterized by progressive scarring and buildup of fibrous tissue in the liver. Liver function declines as the disease progresses. Cirrhosis is a leading cause of death among people aged 45-74 years. There are three types of cirrhosis: post-necrotic, biliary, and portal (alcoholic). Approximately 80 percent of cirrhosis cases are portal.1 Although the major cause of portal cirrhosis is alcoholism, it can sometimes occur in non-alcohol drinkers. Since the majority of alcoholics do not develop cirrhosis, other factors clearly play a role in the development of the disease.

A recent study published in the Annals of Epidemiology examined the potential role of coffee consumption in the mortality of liver cirrhosis. Researchers evaluated the deaths of over 51,000 people and found the 53 had cirrhosis mentioned on their death certificates. The coffee consumption was assessed. After adjustments for sex, age, cardiovascular risks, among others, the results showed that there was a inverse association between coffee intake (two or more cups) and death from liver cirrhosis. This was also seen in alcoholic cirrhosis.2


1. Porth CM. Pathophysiology, 3rd ed. Philadelphia: JB Lippincott; 1990.
2. Tverdal A, et al. Coffee Intake and Mortality from Liver Cirrhosis. Annals of Epidemiology. Jul 2003;13(6);419-423.