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Caffeine Prevents Liver Disease 294

DC Jeff writes "The Washington Post reports that drinking two cups of coffee or tea daily may reduce the risk of liver disease. From the article: 'The study of nearly 10,000 people showed that those who drank more than two cups of coffee or tea per day developed chronic liver disease at half the rate of those who drank less than one cup each day.'"
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Caffeine Prevents Liver Disease

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  • by chunews ( 924590 ) on Monday December 05, 2005 @03:27PM (#14187162)
    Plus, they were able to become the First Poster, at nearly twice the rate!
  • That's because..... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by N8F8 ( 4562 ) on Monday December 05, 2005 @03:27PM (#14187163)
    The other folks are drinking booze instead.
    • There's the rub (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Irishman ( 9604 ) on Monday December 05, 2005 @03:37PM (#14187258)
      The study shows protection for people who drink too much, are overweight or have hemochromatosis (too much iron). Basically, anyone at a high risk of liver disease. Otherwise it doesn't seem to do much of anything.
      • Re:There's the rub (Score:2, Insightful)

        by ZiakII ( 829432 )
        The study shows protection for people who drink too much, are overweight or have hemochromatosis (too much iron). Basically, anyone at a high risk of liver disease. Otherwise it doesn't seem to do much of anything.

        So basically 80% of /.?
    • Already one of the world's most perfect drinks, and now we find out that it has health benefits as well. Has there been any positive news about whipped cream's potential health benefits?

      A.C. commented that it's probably because of the diuretic effects of caffeine making you drink more liquids, which was also my first guess. However, it could equally well be incorrect - caffeine tends to dehydrate you more than the liquid in the coffee or tea replenishes, so unless you're careful to make up for it with w

  • Sweet! (Score:5, Funny)

    by 1984 ( 56406 ) on Monday December 05, 2005 @03:28PM (#14187166)
    My four Diet Cokes during the day should balance the 12 beers each evening.
    • With all the Mountain Dew I drink I should have enough protection to go around for about 12 livers.
    • Looking at how much Diet Coke and coffee I've had today I could've had an extra pint of Harpoon IPA last night. I just don't think my bladder could handle it though.
      • Harpoon? Man, I haven't seen that stuff since I left Boston. I remember back in the 80's one of their early mottos was "We drink our fill then sell the rest!" If only I could find that down here in the dirty south.
    • Now you can simultaneously prevent, and cause, liver disease with the same magic drink!
    • Ah, but that combination comes with free cancer [organicconsumers.org] instead.
    • Only because you are health conscious and choose "diet" coke.
  • O Rly? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SilentOne ( 197494 ) on Monday December 05, 2005 @03:28PM (#14187169) Homepage
    How many people in the study were killed off by high blood pressure before they had the chance to develop cancer?
    • Re:O Rly? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ATeamMrT ( 935933 ) on Monday December 05, 2005 @03:47PM (#14187362)
      How many people in the study were killed off by high blood pressure before they had the chance to develop cancer?

      Good question!

      It seems that any industry can produce a study which says their product is healthy/benificial in some way. But they never tell you the adverse health effects. I would not be supprised if the tobacco industry would run a news story saying smoking decreased colon cancer by .0001% in the population. Too bad it would kill 100X as many from lung cancer.

      This reminds me of the 80's when everyone was saying how bad butter is, and to switch to margarine or die of a heart attack. 10 years later, researchers said margarine is unhealthy and butter is better. I remember the same debate about eggs, until some researcher enlightened us to good cholesterol. LOL, I guess it took someone to fly to France to watch 80 year old men eat eggs fried in butter before they asked "What's going on here".

      I am going to take my grandmothers advice, she is still alive in her 90's. She told me when I was young to get 8 good hours of sleep each night. Don't stay up past midnight, wake up early and ready for the new day. And everything is good in moderation, never take too much of anything. The only thing she said to avoid was smoke and drugs, and people who smoke or use drugs. The last bit of advice was that tomorrow is always a new day, no setback should foul your mood. It is pretty simple advice, but I think she was 100% correct.

      • Re:O Rly? (Score:5, Informative)

        by SatanicPuppy ( 611928 ) <Satanicpuppy.gmail@com> on Monday December 05, 2005 @04:47PM (#14187917) Journal
        Your Grandma knew her classics: ...But though our present account is of this nature we must give what help we can. First, then, let us consider this, that it is the nature of such things to be destroyed by defect and excess, as we see in the case of strength and of health (for to gain light on things imperceptible we must use the evidence of sensible things); both excessive and defective exercise destroys the strength, and similarly drink or food which is above or below a certain amount destroys the health, while that which is proportionate both produces and increases and preserves it. So too is it, then, in the case of temperance and courage and the other virtues. For the man who flies from and fears everything and does not stand his ground against anything becomes a coward, and the man who fears nothing at all but goes to meet every danger becomes rash; and similarly the man who indulges in every pleasure and abstains from none becomes self-indulgent, while the man who shuns every pleasure, as boors do, becomes in a way insensible; temperance and courage, then, are destroyed by excess and defect, and preserved by the mean.

        --Aristotle, the Nicomachean Ethics.
      • "I am going to take my grandmothers advice, she is still alive in her 90's" ... "The only thing she said to avoid was smoke and drugs, and people who smoke or use drugs"

        Its better to burn out then to fade away. Also, please discard your CD/record collection as most of that music wouldnt be around without the help of delicious delicious drugs. Im not saying living to 90 is bad, but if you havent woken up in a pool of your own vomit, on your front lawn, with a chick you dont even remember meeting, can you say
    • Re:O Rly? (Score:3, Informative)

      caffeine generally only raises blood pressure temporarily, and regular coffee drinkers experience less of a blood pressure spike. http://www.ohiohealth.com/healthreference/referenc e/6488C9E0-4259-425B-975EDA39F3378760.htm?category =5171 [ohiohealth.com]
    • Exactly. Misinterpreting statistics like these is incredibly easy. Did you know that taking large amounts of cyanide cuts the chances of you dying of cancer by 100%? And nuclear explosions make you immune to measles. After all, statistics show that nobody who has had a nuclear bomb drop on them has ever contracted measles afterwards. You can't argue with the numbers.

  • Forget coffee! (Score:2, Informative)

    by bwd ( 936324 )
    Green tea [wikipedia.org] has caffeine just like coffee but has immeasurably more benefits, such as reducing the likelihood of all kinds of cancers and tumors. Further, it has been shown in some studies to do more good for the heart than a glass of wine every day. All coffee has is caffeine.
    • Nope (Score:4, Informative)

      by flyinwhitey ( 928430 ) on Monday December 05, 2005 @03:34PM (#14187220)
      "Vinson and his team studied the content of antioxidants in various foods, like vegetables, fruits, tea and cocoa. They eventually decided to look at coffee as well. When they did, they found that both regular and decaffeinated coffee contain significant amounts of antioxidants, though Vinson does note that fruits and vegetables are more nutritious sources.

      What kind of health benefits can people expect to receive from drinking coffee? According to Martin, "Predominantly in epidemiologic studies, there have been associations between coffee consumption and lowered rates of certain illnesses, like suicide, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's, Type II diabetes, colon cancer and heart disease." (Epidemiologic studies are often historical trials that are not considered definitive by clinicians.)"

    • You might have to drink a lot more though, depending on how much caffeine they recommend. According to this [wilstar.com], green tea only has about 15mg of caffeine versus 65 in the least potent coffee. If the study is as decribed, my regular Coke intake (34mg per can) will benefit me similarly :)
    • "All coffee has is caffeine."

      What ill-informed garbage.

      Americans get the vast majority of their antioxidants from drinking coffee. It's full of them.
    • Recent studies have shown that coffee (caffeinated, not decaf) has as high or higher antioxidant levels than tea. (Unfortunately I don't have a link to the study, its at home and I'm at work... check Google news)And as a previous poster noted you'd have to drink a helluva lot of tea to get the same amount of caffeine.

    • And a shitload of antioxidants, more than just about anything else actually, including green tea.
  • Great News! (Score:5, Funny)

    by XLawyer ( 68496 ) * on Monday December 05, 2005 @03:30PM (#14187187) Homepage
    So first we find out that masturbation lowers the risk of prostate cancer [bbc.co.uk], and now we learn that caffeine prevents liver disease.

    Dude, I'm going to live forever!
    • However masturbating while drinking coffee can lead to other forms of illness. Or maybe it caused by other forms of illness, I forget which.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 05, 2005 @04:25PM (#14187710)
      Cool, but how did they get the rats to masturbate?
    • Re:Great News! (Score:3, Insightful)

      But in that article they dismissed sexual intercourse for the probability of getting an STD - this means that a monogamous relationship is just as effective.

      Perhaps this study could've been labelled: "Having monogamous relationship and no sex prior to marriage decreases men's probabilities of having prostate cancer". But well, the same could be said about AIDS. But something tells me that this idea will be rejected by the public right away.
      • Re:Great News! (Score:3, Insightful)

        by StikyPad ( 445176 )
        Except that one's own fidelity is never insurance of one's partner's fidelity. Especially when you consider that 10% of children (on average across social, economic, and political borders) are the product of cuckoldry.. So at least 10% of women are unfaithful, and that's just the ones who actually get knocked up. Further consider that you're more likely to use barrier protection (a rubber) when having casual sex than when you're in a monogomous relationship. And finally, that women are much less likely
  • by Shakrai ( 717556 ) on Monday December 05, 2005 @03:31PM (#14187198) Journal
    I suppose this explains the reason why I always want to drink coffee after getting wasted... the liver knows best ;)

    Hey, it sounds better then that bumper sticker, "The liver is evil and must be destroyed" ;)
  • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Monday December 05, 2005 @03:31PM (#14187199)
    Finally, the .sig quote becomes true. To bring the life back into balance...

    It is by caffeine alone I set my mind in motion,
    It is by the beans of Java that thoughts acquire speed,
    The hands acquire shakes, the shakes become a warning,
    It is by caffeine alone I set my mind in motion.

    I must drink beer.
    Beer is the painkiller.
    And beer is the little drink that brings total satisfaction.
    I will drink my beer.
    I will permit it to pass through me.
    And where the beer has gone there will be nothing.
    Only a hangover will remain.

    Caffeine in the morning to awaken the mind and refresh the liver. Alcochol at night to knock 'em both back down again for a good night's sleep.

  • by i.r.id10t ( 595143 ) on Monday December 05, 2005 @03:31PM (#14187200)
    So I guess Irish Coffee sorta balances it out? The liquor trashes the liver, the caffiene saves it. And isometric intoxication too!

    Now where's my Bushmills and Jamaica Blue coffee beans?
  • I always say... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DustyShadow ( 691635 ) on Monday December 05, 2005 @03:32PM (#14187208) Homepage
    Everything in moderation, even moderation.

    There is no "trick" to living longer, just use commmon sense.
  • I would think that the people drinking more than one cup of coffe in the morning would be the ones trying to recover from the heavy hangover from the night before...
  • by MosesJones ( 55544 ) on Monday December 05, 2005 @03:32PM (#14187213) Homepage

    Red Wine = Lower risk of heart disease
    Coffee = Lower risk of Liver disease

    Turns out the smug buggers were right all along to laugh at the latest health craze from the US.

  • If it's the caffeine that counts, then how about Jolt Cola.?

    If so, then the Microsoft campus should the most liver diesase-free spot on Earth.

  • Is there something in coffee or tea that helps your liver?

    Or is it simply that any liquid intake you have that's coffee or tea is liquid intake that's not beer?

  • by Havenwar ( 867124 ) on Monday December 05, 2005 @03:35PM (#14187236)
    Studies show that with absolute certainty, sleep is lethal. Everybody who has ever slept will at some point die. It is unavoidable. We better stay away from it.

    In other news, stupidity (and the blind belief in statistical based research) causes cancer.

    • I think you're looking for the phrase "correlation does not imply causality". However, there's a lot of 'statistical based research' where statistics tell you how believable the evidence is that some event occurring is not by chance.

      Showing that things are not random can show causality. You need to just look at the data (and many sets, sometimes) from different angles to rule out any alternative hypothesis.

      How do you think any genetic studies are conducted?
  • Maybe:
    • Folks with hepatitis or cirrosis are too ill to drink coffee.
    • Like the guy said, the other people were drinking sterno.
    • Brazilians die of other things before liver problems can kill them.
  • Terrific, with my consumption maybe I can sell caffeine credits!

    At the very least the people who bet my blood through my donations will be safe.
  • So does this mean... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by parasonic ( 699907 )
    Alcohol --> Bad for the liver
    Coffee --> Good for the liver

    Does this mean that Kahlua cancels itself out? If so, I'm going to get trashed tonight!!
  • by Billosaur ( 927319 ) * <wgrother@oEINSTE ... minus physicist> on Monday December 05, 2005 @03:44PM (#14187325) Journal

    Good news, to be added to the possibility that caffeine is is linked to protection from Parkinson's disease [harvard.edu]. Makes those first couple of mugs of coffee taste that much sweeter... well, that and 2 heaping tablesoons of sugar and all the packets of Splenda® I can find.

  • A few days ago on I believe CNN: Coffee improves your memory, at least short term memory, long term still needs to be researched, hence the "on I believe CNN".
    Today coffee saves my liver
    Now some math with coffee:
    2 cups to improve my memory
    2 cups to save my live
    Just doubling the dose to be on the safe side= 8 cups of coffee in a day should be ok I guess.

    And off again to the next topic.
  • Coffee drinkers have twice the rate of kidney failure than non coffee drinkers.

    gasmonso http://religiousfreaks.com/ [religiousfreaks.com]
    • "Coffee drinkers have twice the rate of kidney failure than non coffee drinkers."

      See? You can't win with these scientific studies. That's why I drink Irish Coffee, there is a neglible chance that my liver will be saved, but if not, at least I will be too drunk to notice otherwise.
  • With tradeoffs (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mr100percent ( 57156 ) * on Monday December 05, 2005 @03:46PM (#14187344) Homepage Journal
    And decaffeinated coffee was recently discovered to raise your LDL cholesterol, the bad kind. Always a tradeoff, eh?

  • by wonkavader ( 605434 ) on Monday December 05, 2005 @03:46PM (#14187345)
    Caffeine's a diuretic. I'll bet any diuretic will do the same.
    • My best guess is that it's more likely to be a stress reaction, caused by the caffeine.

      A lot of people take coffee to perk them up a bit- the caffeine triggers stress reactions that pull glucose out of storage in the liver and elsewhere and put them into circulation where they are picked up by the brain (the brain's preferred fuel in glucose).

      So that would tend to deplete the liver's glycogen stores.

      Now, when you come along and drink alcohol on top; alcohol tends to inhibit the chemical that turns fru

  • Hmm... (Score:3, Funny)

    by Gadgetfreak ( 97865 ) on Monday December 05, 2005 @03:47PM (#14187363)
    Well, I guess drinking a few Irish Coffees a day isn't as bad for your liver as you thought it was.

    Kind of reminds me of my senior year in college, when I realized most of my vitamin C came from the screwdrivers I drank.

  • "Correlation does not prove causation"

    Repeat as necessary.

    • Re:Repeat after me (Score:4, Insightful)

      by DoofusOfDeath ( 636671 ) on Monday December 05, 2005 @04:35PM (#14187809)
      NO evidence can *prove* causation.

      Unless you've shown that for all (and I mean *all*) distinct states of a system, some event B happens only after some other event A. And even then, you run into some hard realities about the tenuous definition of "causality".
    • Re:Repeat after me (Score:5, Insightful)

      by CosmeticLobotamy ( 155360 ) on Monday December 05, 2005 @04:54PM (#14188004)
      "Correlation does not prove causation"

      I'm really glad people doing actual science don't do things like see penicillin reducing the numbers of bacteria and say, "Yeah, but correlation does not prove causation. I'm going to go ahead and bleed you some more."
      • What those scientists did is try to think of all the other reasons that the number of bacteria might also be decreasing. Then, test all those other hypothesis. When all those alternates don't pan out, and this one does (penicillin vs. non penicillin results in an effect of X reduction of bacteria over N number of tests with a confidence of W) then you can believe your hypothesis.

        I take it very few people on Slashdot DO science for a living. I have a paper in nature genetics this month (well, on line, it'
      • Re:Repeat after me (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Quiet_Desperation ( 858215 ) on Monday December 05, 2005 @05:16PM (#14188264)
        So you support the title "Caffiene *PREVENTS* liver disease"?

        Cripes, I never said do no further research. That's called a "straw man fallacy". I was addressing the common tendency of the media to present correlation as causation. A simple correlation should not even be news outside journals for the field in question.

        This link might help. [wikipedia.org]

  • Incidence (Score:5, Insightful)

    by henryhbk ( 645948 ) on Monday December 05, 2005 @03:53PM (#14187416) Homepage
    The key to these studies, which we teach all the residents and medical students, is that you have to look at the incidence of liver disease (especially when they specifically excluded viral hepatitis which is the overwhelming majority) in the population. If the incidence is one in 100,000 and you get a 50% reduction (sounds impressive) you only change it to 1 in 200,000. This is why pharmaceutical firms use the relative risk (ignoring incidence, just using the percentage) in advertising.

    The incidence of liver disease among non-hepatitis infected people is incredibly small. If you take all comers it is 12th among cause of death (lower than suicde) according to the NIH (pdf of causes of death) [cdc.gov].

    Because even if the result is statistically significant, if not that many people die of it (~2500 in 2003), then the harm caused by this drug (caffine) may not outway the rare case it saves (and yes, I understand if you're the one it is significant, but this is public health)

    For instance "Zipia reduces aliens ripping out of your abdomen by 99%" sounds very impressive, until you look at how many people this would affect (there were the 4 alien movies plus spaceballs). So everyone should not start using zipia, which undoubtably will cause some bad side effect, versus those few actors who would be saved.

  • Other effects (Score:2, Interesting)

    Ok, so you have less of a chance of liver disease... What about the diuretic effects, and effects on other organs?

    Water loss leads impaired kidney function, and loss of vital nutrients, i.e., calcium. http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/columnnn/nn03110 3.html [colostate.edu]

    So unless your the rare geek who staggers each $caffeinatedDrink with two glasses of water and a Flinstones vitamin - your on the loosing end. But what the hell, everything will kill you in one way or another...

  • by TheSkepticalOptimist ( 898384 ) on Monday December 05, 2005 @03:56PM (#14187445)
    I grow tired of these kinds of "studies", those that say drinking beer, wine, tea, coffee, coke, or even smoking have some benefits. Especially when they start saying that 1 or 2 cups or servings of someting will prevent something else.

    These studies are generally aimed at foods or products that are generally considered to be unhealthy or otherwise, the people making these products are in a defensive position to try and validate their existence.

    The problem is that there are those people just waiting for an excuse to over-indulge in these products. If drinking 2 cups of beer a day prevents cancer, then by drinking 12 I will live to 100, right?

    Often people just read the caption without reading the entire article, or in many cases, the finer points of the study are excluded to a terse clipping of the conclusion without preventing the facts, those facts usually explaining how overindulgence could cause adverse medical problems. This is the case here in Slashdot where many people simply read the blurb without delving into the hyperlinked article.

    Also, these studies are usually contradictory to other studies. Recently it was reported on Slashdot that drinking even one cup of coffee was linked to some kind of adverse health issue. The studies conflict each other, meaning that the truth of the matter is never effectively conveyed by both parties. People that love coffee will be quicker to believe that it is more beneficial to them then those that don't drink it, who would quote coffee is harmful to you.

    Lastely, these studdies generally ignore other serious health issues that might go along with the consumption. Like the fact that most people take cream and sugar in their coffee. Many people in Canada love their double/doubles (2 creams and 2 sugars). This study suggests that drinking two cups of coffee a day has positive health effects, but for those that like cream and sugar in their coffee, this means drinking in addition to the coffee, one will consume 4 servings of high fat cream and 4 teaspoons of suger. The high fat in cream and excessive calories of the sugar are sure to be more harmful to your health then whatever positive effects the coffee may have on your health. Those that feel more is better will consume more high fat cream and high calorie sugars which will exponentially have a negative effect on their health, in addition to ignoring disclaimers by the study that too much coffee could have a detrimental effect.

    Finally, there are those people who consider themselves well learned and so propose that its the caffine in coffee that is beneficial, so drinking a couple cups of cola should also be beneficial, or popping a couple of caffine pills or those high-caf beverages. The study mentions that drinking 2 cups of coffee or tea a day is beneficial, but the Slashdot article only says that Caffeine prevents liver disease, a discrepancy in the facts presented.

    In any case, one should never blindly use these articles as an excuse to continue or start a bad habit. There are MANY healthy ways to prevent Liver Disease, drinking two cups of coffee a days to cure a hangover after consuming an excess of alcohol the previous night probably won't have a positive effect on your liver.
  • The article doesn't actually back up that it's caffeine that prevents liver disease. It simply shows that *coffee or tea* prevent it. I wonder what other common substances (besides water) they have in them that could alternatively be providing the benefits.

    I think a good follow-on study might be to try caffeine pills vs placebos - although since we're talking about preventing disease rather than curing it, that study could take a generation or more.
  • Maybe these studies should look at why people who prefer one type of drink over another are developing a disease. Instead of saying that one drink or another prevents a disease. Could it be that people who are prone to liver disease are less likely to prefer caffinated drinks? I think at this stage in the study this answer is more likely than the "caffeine prevents liver disease" headline.
  • Perhaps there was less liver problems because people likely to drink that much tea or whatever are less likely to drink a lot of alcohol?
  • questionable article (Score:3, Informative)

    by Flunitrazepam ( 664690 ) on Monday December 05, 2005 @04:34PM (#14187797) Journal
    This article obviously wasn't meant for much more than a quick conversation piece. There is litte, if any, scientific data presented.

    In general, coffee is quite a bit more caffinated than tea. Brewed coffee is around 135mg, instant around 95mg, whereas the most common teas (lipton green, instant black, etc) have about 35-40mgs. So statements like "one or two cups of coffee OR TEA" puts the targetted intake anywhere between 70mg and 270mgs per day. How useful.
  • by KlomDark ( 6370 ) on Monday December 05, 2005 @04:39PM (#14187847) Homepage Journal
    How many cups of coffee do I need per beer to prevent scirosis?
  • ....The Yankee group, in association with StarBucks!
  • route of administration for coffee is not oral... something about the rectum having a direct vascular subpathway to the liver for transporting all that cleansing caffeiney goodness...

    Just be sure to cool it to roughly body temperature first. ;-)

  • Who the hell listens to these 'studies' anyway!?

Q: How many IBM CPU's does it take to execute a job? A: Four; three to hold it down, and one to rip its head off.