Coffee and disorders of the small intestine

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Duodenal ulcers

The duodenum is the first part of the intestine after the stomach and, as such, is regularly exposed to stomach acid, as the contents of the stomach pass into the duodenum to continue the process of digestion. The wall of the duodenum is protected from stomach acid by a mucus covering, however infection or use of certain drugs, including painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs, can disrupt the production of mucus.

Available evidence shows no relationship between coffee consumption and the development of duodenal ulcers.

  • A large prospective cohort study of 47,806 American men assessed the relationship between caffeine, alcohol and smoking on the risk of developing duodenal ulcers17. None of these factors were associated with a substantial increase in risk.  A further 2012 cross-sectional study of 8,013 healthy subjects in Japan also did not show an association between coffee intake and duodenal ulcers11.
  • An additional study showed no difference in the daily pattern of coffee intake, or the pattern of complaints after drinking coffee between those with duodenal ulcers and controls20.

Intestinal fluid discharge

Fluid is important for digestion, enabling nutrients to be broken down into a solution prior to absorption. Approximately nine litres of digestive juices are secreted daily, the majority of which are reabsorbed during the process of digestion.

It is unlikely that the ingestion of any specific foods or beverages has a significant effect on the total volume of fluid secreted in the intestines, and there is no indication that drinking coffee affects fluid secretion.

This information is intended for Healthcare professional audiences.
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