New Canadian campaign suggests coffee is good for the liver

A campaign by the Canadian Liver Foundation is pushing to raise awareness on actions individuals can take to prevent liver diseases. And drinking coffee is one of them. SB/Getty Images

Editor’s Note: This article has been altered from the original to provide more context and clarity.

When it comes to the health of Canadians, a new campaign is suggesting that coffee might actually be good for the liver.

Organized by the Canadian Liver Foundation (CNL), the campaign is based on data from the last two years which show that consuming coffee could lead to a reduced risk of developing liver diseases. In a press release on Wednesday, the foundation said the campaign celebrates the potential of coffee in “(enhancing) liver health.”

Alluding to the research, the foundation noted in their release that one cup of black coffee a day could lower the risk of chronic liver disease by 15 per cent. About three to four cups a day can reduce the risk to 71 per cent.

Dr. David Peretz, director of the Manitoba Liver Transplant Program at the Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg, said that coffee does benefit the liver – attributing to its impact on a wide range of diseases. He noted that such benefits can lead to less scarring and inflammation in the organ.

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When asked, Peretz said that his knowledge is based on data and population studies.

“It’s hard for me to draw any conclusions from my own patients just because coffee is such a big staple in our society,” said Peretz. “It’s population studies, looking at… coffee drinkers compared to non-coffee drinkers. Somehow there’s a protective effect by being a coffee drinker.”

Peretz said that, for those who drink, he recommends two to three cups a day. He added that it can even be okay to drink up to six cups, but that everything should be done in moderation.

Laura Dellandrea, the CNL’s marketing and communications manager, said the data confirmed what the foundation already knew. She said that components of coffee can help to suppress the progression of liver diseases.

“It’s research that we’ve known about for a while… we’re always looking for ways to bring awareness to Canadians in how they can reduce their risk for liver disease,” said Dellandrea. “Among many other small, preventative, daily lifestyle choices, coffee is another way that can reduce that risk.”

Dellandrea said that while coffee can play a role in reducing risks for diseases, it isn’t the only outlet. Lifestyle choices, she noted, can play a big role — from eating healthier to being active. Coffee is a piece of it, she said. But at the end of the day, it isn’t an all-encompassing cure.

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There are other actions that individuals can take to prevent such conditions as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease to fibrosis and even liver cancer, according to the campaign.

While touting coffee as beneficial to the health of the liver, Peretz said that it’s important to check in with one’s doctor about the affects the beverage might have on other organs. With possible side effects related to heart conditions or even palpitations, he added that it’s important to get the doctor’s approval.

“There’s probably an amount of coffee that’s too bad for you. Most people don’t reach that amount in real life,” said Peretz. “I’ve never met someone who drinks that much… People who drink one cup per day have a benefit. Those who drink two seem to be more advantageous. And three and so forth. Two to three is what we normally recommend.”

As for the kind of coffee that can be beneficial, Dellandrea said all forms do the trick.

“The great thing is it doesn’t really matter what way the coffee’s prepared. It can be decaf; it can be caffeinated. It can also be drip, French press, espresso, filtered, (and) instant. All the ways (show) that black coffee is effective for liver health,” said Dellandrea.

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