Coffee might protect male drinkers from liver disease, suggested Finnish researchers who published a new study in the journal of Alcohol and Alcoholism.
The researchers asked nearly 19,000 Finnish men and women aged from 25 to 74 about their coffee and alcohol consumption. They also measured participants’ blood levels of the liver enzyme gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT).
Researchers explain that drinking alcohol raises levels of GGT in the blood, and the higher levels of GGT are found in people with liver disease.
The study demonstrated that male subjects who consumed over 24 alcoholic drinks every week, or nearly 3.5 drinks per day, had the highest levels of liver enzyme, which was about three times higher than men who did not drink.
However, researchers found that male heavy drinker who also consumed five or more cups of coffee per day showed a huge 50 percent decrease in GGT in contrast to male heavy drinkers who did not consume coffee.
“The findings are thought-provoking, though it is impossible to derive meaning from them,” said Dr. David Bernstein, chief of the division of hepatology at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, New York, who was not involved in the new study.
“If I go out and have a six-pack tonight, my levels will be up, but it doesn’t mean I have liver disease,” Bernstein explained. “We know nothing about whether decreasing levels of the liver enzyme leads to improvements in overall health, or a decreased risk of liver disease.”
Bernstein also warned that drinkers should not think that drinking more coffee will offset the adverse effects of heavy drinking.