Drinking three cups of coffee each day could save your life, new research suggests.
Scientists discovered such an amount can slash the risk of liver disease, liver cancer and cirrhosis by up to 70 per cent.
Coffee’s life-saving benefits stem from the drink’s abundance of caffeine, kahweol, cafestol and antioxidants, experts believe.
This mixture of compounds and substances protects the liver and stops the scarring of tissue and inflammation – linked to all three ailments.
Charities state coffee is an ‘easy lifestyle’ change, and implied it could be a medicine – whether it is filtered, instant or espresso.
Scientists discovered such an amount can slash the risk of liver disease, liver cancer and cirrhosis by up to 70 per cent
The review, funded by six large coffee manufacturers, was based on six previous studies looking into the benefits of coffee on the liver.
What did the review find?
It referred to an Italian study last year that discovered drinking three cups of coffee each day slashes the risk by 65 per cent.
While Kaiser Permanente scientists noted drinking coffee made cirrhosis 25 per cent less likely, while others found it to be as high as 70 per cent.
Statistical analyses have also shown that coffee consumption can slash the risk of liver cancer by 40 per cent – and drinking more may offer further protection.
Who funded the review?
The review was funded by the Institute for Scientific Information on Coffee – which is made up of illycaffè, Jacobs Douwe Egberts, Lavazza, Nestlé, Paulig, and Tchibo.
Moderate coffee drinking was defined by the European Food Safety Authority’s review of caffeine safety as three to five cups a day.
Liver diseases: The facts
The number of people with liver disease, of which there are more than 100 types, is increasing in the UK and the US.
Figures show it affects two million Britons, and 30 million Americans. It is on the increase because of obesity, undiagnosed hepatitis infection and alcohol misuse.
Liver cancer is rarer but also increasing but the exact cause remains unknown. It kills around 5,000 each year in the UK and 28,000 in the US.
HOW MUCH CAFFEINE IS SAFE?
The EU’s food safety watchdog advised a daily limit of 400mg for adults in its first guidelines on caffeine intake in 2015.
European Food Safety Agency officials suggested pregnant women should keep intakes below 200mg.
It also advised children to consume no more than 3mg of caffeine per KG of body weight – the equivalent of two mugs of milky tea for a child of four.
Health officials warned those who break the limits run the risk of a host of health problems, from anxiety to heart failure.
Its warning also showed links between high caffeine intake in pregnancy and having a baby that is underweight.
The NHS says too much caffeine can cause a miscarriage. There are also links to birth defects.
However, with coffee far from the only food or drink to contain caffeine, people may unintentionally be going over the safe limit.
Cirrhosis, the long-term scarring of the liver, which can be fatal in itself, and claims the lives of 4,000 each year in Britain. In the US, it can be as high as 32,000.
What do the experts say?
The roundtable, held at the Royal Society of Medicine, was chaired by Professor Graeme Alexander, from University College London.
It included academics, transplant groups and representatives from national liver associations from across seven European countries.
Professor Alexander said the findings could help patients who may not have liver disease diagnosed to make changes in their lives.
He added: ‘A moderate intake of coffee of three to five cups a day is associated with a beneficial effect on liver health.
‘Patients often have a negative opinion of coffee and are not given proactive advice on coffee consumption as part of a healthy lifestyle.
‘However, roundtable delegates felt that patients could benefit from such advice.’
‘A silent killer’
Judi Rhys, chief executive of the British Liver Trust said: ‘Liver disease is a silent killer as often there are no symptoms until it’s too late.
‘Coffee is something that is easily accessible to everyone and regularly drinking it – filtered, instant or espresso – may make a difference in preventing, and, in some cases, slowing down the progression of liver disease.
‘It is an easy lifestyle choice to make.’