Consuming Coffee Linked to Lower Risk of Detrimental Liver Disease, Mayo Clinic Finds

Regular consumption of coffee is associated with a reduced risk of primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC), an autoimmune liver disease, Mayo Clinic research shows. The findings were being presented at the Digestive Disease Week 2013 conference in Orlando, Fla.

PSC is an inflammatory disease of the bile ducts that results in inflammation and subsequent fibrosis that can lead to cirrhosis of the liver, liver failure and biliary cancer.

“While rare, PSC has extremely detrimental effects,” says study author Craig Lammert, M.D., a Mayo Clinic gastroenterologist. “We’re always looking for ways to mitigate risk, and our first-time finding points to a novel environmental factor that also might help us to determine the cause of this and other devastating autoimmune diseases.”

The study examined a large group of U.S. patients with PSC and primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) and a group of healthy patients. Data showed that coffee consumption was associated with reduced risk of PSC, but not PBC. PSC patients were much likelier not to consume coffee than healthy patients were. The PSC patients also spent nearly 20 percent less of their time regularly drinking coffee than the control.

The study suggests PSC and PBC differ more than originally thought, Konstantinos Lazaridis, M.D., a Mayo Clinic hepatologist and senior study author says: “Moving forward, we can look at what this finding might tell us about the causes of these diseases and how to better treat them.”

Consuming Coffee Linked to Lower Risk of Detrimental Liver Disease

The National Institutes of Health funded part of this with a grant to principal investigator Dr. Lazaridis. The American Liver Foundation awarded Dr. Lammert a postdoctoral research fellowship.

What is primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC)?

PSC is a disease that damages and blocks bile ducts inside and outside the liver. Bile is a liquid made in the liver. Bile ducts are tubes that carry bile out of the liver to the gallbladder and small intestine. In the intestine, bile helps break down fat in food.

In PSC, inflammation of the bile ducts leads to scar formation and narrowing of the ducts over time. As scarring increases, the ducts become blocked. As a result, bile builds up in the liver and damages liver cells. Eventually, scar tissue can spread throughout the liver, causing cirrhosis and liver failure.

What are the complications of PSC?

PSC can lead to various complications, including

  deficiencies of vitamins A, D, E, and K
  infections of the bile ducts
  cirrhosis - extensive scarring of the liver
  liver failure
  bile duct cancer

About Mayo Clinic

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How common is primary sclerosing cholangitis?

Primary sclerosing cholangitis is a rare disease with an estimated prevalence in the United States of 6 per 100,000 people. It is more common in men then in women; approximately 70% of primary sclerosing cholangitis patients are men. The mean age at diagnosis of primary sclerosing cholangitis is around 40 years of age.

There is a strong association between primary sclerosing cholangitis and chronic ulcerative colitis. Primary sclerosing cholangitis can also occur alone or in association with Crohn’s disease, a disease of the intestines that is related to ulcerative colitis.

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