Types of liver disease

There are several different categories of liver disease:

  • Liver cancer.
  • Alcohol-related liver disease.
  • Infective damage, such as Hepatitis A, B, C, D and E.
  • Diseases of the bile ducts.
  • Fatty liver disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis.
  • Hereditary disorders, such as haemochromatosis.

Liver disease – a significant health issue

  • Liver disease is estimated to affect 6% of the EU’s population (approx. 29 million people) and is reported to be the EU’s 5th biggest killer1.
  • Liver cancer is the 5th most common cause of cancer-related deaths globally and the 14th most prevalent in Europe2. It accounts for 5.4%, or 695,000 deaths worldwide (47,000 deaths in Europe)3. Liver cancer is the leading cause of death amongst patients with liver cirrhosis4.
  • It is estimated that over 10 million people in Europe are affected by Hepatitis1:
  • 600,000 die of the acute or chronic consequences of Hepatitis B every year5.
  • The World Health Organization estimates that there are about 4 million carriers of Hepatitis C in Europe alone6.

Coffee consumption and liver function

  • Drinking moderate amounts of coffee may help to reduce the risk of liver cancer, and the risk of developing liver cancer falls as coffee consumption rises7-9.
  • Moderate coffee consumption may also be related to a slower progression of liver disease. Patients with a higher coffee consumption have been found to display a milder course of fibrosis, especially in alcoholic liver disease10-11.
  • The association between moderate coffee consumption and a slower rate of fibrosis has also been seen in patients with hepatic fibrosis12, cirrhosis13, non-alcoholic liver disease14-18 and Hepatitis C19-21.
  • It is not yet clear whether, and to what extent, caffeine may be responsible for the reduction in risk of developing these diseases.
  • Several different coffee components are being investigated. Kahweol and cafestol, naturally-occurring compounds in coffee, are being studied for their anti-carcinogenic effects22, while the anti-viral properties of chlorogenic and caffeic acids are also under investigation23.


  1. The European Liver Patients Association (April 2005). https://elpa.eu/.
  2. Ferlay J. et al. (2010). Estimates of cancer incidence and mortality in Europe in 2008. Eur J Cancer 46(4):765–81.
  3. European Association for the Study of the Liver http://www.easl.eu
  4. Sangiovanni A. et al. (2004). Increased survival of cirrhotic patients with a hepatocellular carcinoma detected during surveillance. Gastroenterology, 126(4): 1005-14.
  5. World Health Organisation (2008) ‘WHO Fact Sheet No. 204, Hepatitis B’ Available at: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs204/en/
  6. World Health Organisation (2010) ‘WHO Fact Sheet No. 164, Hepatitis C’ Available at: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs164/en/
  7. Bravi F. et al. (2007). Coffee drinking and hepatocellular carcinoma risk: a meta-analysis. Hepatology, 46:430-435.
  8. Larsson S.C. et al. (2007). Coffee consumption and liver cancer: a meta-analysis. Gastroenterology, 132:1740-1745.
  9. Bravi F. et al. (2013) Coffee reduces risk for hepatocellular carcinoma: An updated meta-analysis. Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology. (11):1413-1421.
  10. Gressner O.A. (2009). About coffee, cappuccino and connective tissue growth factor – or how to protect your liver!? Environmental Toxicology and Pharmacology, 28(1):1-10.
  11. Saab S. et al. (2013) Impact of coffee on liver disease a systematic review. Liver International 34(4):495-504.
  12. Modi A.A. et al. (2010). Increased caffeine consumption is associated with reduced hepatic fibrosis. Hepatology, 51: 201-209.
  13. Stroffolini T. et al. (2010). Interaction of alcohol intake and cofactors on the risk of cirrhosis. Liver International, 30(6): 867-870.
  14. Catalano D. et al. (2010). Protective role of coffee on non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Digestive Disease and Sciences, 55(11): 3200-3206.
  15. Birerdinc A. et al. (2012). Caffeine is protective in patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics, 35(1): 76-82.
  16. Molloy J.W. et al. (2012). Association of coffee and caffeine consumption with fatty liver disease, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, and degree of hepatic fibrosis. Hepatology, 55(2): 429-36.
  17. Gutierrez-Grobe Y. et al. (2012). High coffee intake is associated with lower grade non-alcoholic fatty liver disease: the role of peripheral antioxidant activity. Annals of Hepatology, Volume 11 (3): 350-355.
  18. Bambha K. et al. (2013) Coffee consumption in NAFLD patients with lower insulin resistance is associated with lower risk of severe fibrosis. Liver International published online ahead of print: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24267865
  19. Freedman N.D. et al. (2009). Coffee intake is associated with lower rates of liver disease progression in chronic Hepatits-C. Hepatology, 50: 1360–
  20. Costentin C.E. et al. (2011). Association of caffeine intake and histological features of chronic hepatitis C. Journal of Hepatology, Volume 54: 1123-1129.
  21. Goh G.B, et al. (2014) Coffee, alcohol, and other beverages in relation to cirrhosis mortality: the Singapore Chinese Health Study. Hepatology: 60(2):661–669
  22. Muriel P. et al. (2010). Coffee and liver disease. Fitoterapia, 81:297-305.
  23. Wang G.W. et al. (2009). Anti-hepatitis B virus activity of chlorogenic acid, quinic acid and caffeic acid in vivo and in vitro. Antiviral Research, 83(2):186-90.

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