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Chronic hepatitis C: drinking coffee slows progression of liver disease


Patients with chronic hepatitis C and advanced liver disease who drink three or more cups of coffee per day have a 53% lower risk of liver disease progression than non-coffee drinkers.
The study found that patients with hepatitis C-related bridging fibrosis or cirrhosis who did not respond to standard disease treatment benefited from increased coffee intake. An effect on liver disease was not observed in patients who drank black or green tea.

Hepatitis-C virus ( HCV ) infects approximately 2.2% of the world's population with more than 3 million Americans infected.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( CDC ) cites HCV as the leading cause of liver transplantation in the US and accounts for 8,000 to 10,000 deaths in the country annually.
Globally, the World Health Organization ( WHO ) estimates 3 to 4 million persons contract HCV each year with 70% becoming chronic cases that can lead to cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer.

This study included 766 participants enrolled in the Hepatitis C Antiviral Long-Term Treatment against Cirrhosis ( HALT-C ) trial who had hepatitis C-related bridging fibrosis or cirrhosis and failed to respond to standard treatment of the anti-viral drugs Peginterferon and Ribavirin.

At the onset of the study, HALT-C patients were asked to report their typical frequency of coffee intake and portion size over the past year, using 9 frequency categories ranging from never to every day and 4 categories of portion size ( 1 cup, 2 cups, 3-4 cups, and 5+ cups ). A similar question was asked for black and green tea intake.

Participants were seen every 3 months during the 3.8-year study period to assess clinical outcomes which included: ascites, prognosis of chronic liver disease, death related to liver disease, hepatic encephalopathy, hepatocellular carcinoma, spontaneous bacterial peritonitis, variceal hemorrhage, or increase in fibrosis. Liver biopsies were also taken at 1.5 and 3.5 five years to determine the progression of liver disease.

Results showed that participants who drank 3 or more cups of coffee per day had a relative risk of 0.47 for reaching one of the clinical outcomes. Researchers did not observe any association between tea intake and liver disease progression, though tea consumption was low in the study.  ( Xagena )

Source: Hepatology, 2009

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