Not Just For Hangovers Anymore: Coffee May Have Big Perks For Alcohol Drinkers

By McCarton Ackerman 02/22/16

While it is not a cure-all, a study suggests that drinking coffee may be beneficial to those who imbibe. 

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Not Just For Hangovers Anymore: Coffee May Reduce The Effects Of Heavy Drinking
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Coffee fiends are rejoicing over a new study which claims that drinking at least two cups of coffee can reduce the effects of excess drinking.

The findings, published in the journal Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics, came from analyzing the results of nine previous studies that included a total of 430,000 participants. Nearly 1,900 of those participants had cirrhosis of the liver. Those who drank one cup of coffee per day reduced their risk of developing cirrhosis by 22% compared to those who drank no coffee, while two cups reduced their risk even further at 43%. Consuming three cups of coffee per day led to a 57% reduced risk, while four cups led a to a peak reduction of 65%.

Researchers also noted that filter coffee led to a greater reduced cirrhosis risk than with boiled coffee, but couldn’t pinpoint an exact reason for this finding.

“Coffee is a complex mixture containing hundreds of chemical compounds, and it is unknown which of these is responsible for protecting the liver,” said lead study author Dr. Oliver Kennedy of Southampton University. However, he also advised against excess drinking because “cirrhosis is potentially fatal and there is no cure as such.”

Other medical professionals expressed concern that the findings give an impression that coffee counterbalances the effects of an unhealthy lifestyle. Samantha Heller, a senior clinical nutritionist at New York University Langone Medical Center, noted that “although coffee contains compounds that have antioxidant effects and anti-inflammatory properties, drinking a few cups of coffee a day cannot undo the systematic damage that is the result of being overweight or obese, sedentary, excessive alcohol consumption or drastically mitigate an unhealthy diet.”

A separate report published last April also noted that drinking coffee reduced the risk for liver cancer by 14%. The analysis of 34 previous scientific studies was conducted by the London-based World Cancer Research Fund.

Although the researchers noted that "coffee and coffee extracts have also been shown to reduce the expression of genes involved in inflammation, and the effects appear to be most pronounced in the liver,” they acknowledged that more research needed to be conducted before they could explain the correlation between coffee and reduced liver cancer risk.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.

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