Coffee & Health
Liver function

Research suggests coffee consumption is associated with a reduced risk of liver diseases

November 20, 2017

New report on coffee and liver health discusses potential impact of coffee consumption on chronic liver disease, liver cancer and cirrhosis.

A new roundtable report from the Institute for Scientific Information on Coffee (ISIC) on ‘Looking after the liver: coffee, caffeine and lifestyle factors’ highlights the potential role of coffee consumption in reducing the risk of liver diseases such as liver cancer and cirrhosis.

Roundtable delegates including academics, media medics and representatives from national liver associations from across seven European countries, met to discuss the most recent research into coffee and liver health, and the potential mechanisms behind a suggested reduced risk of liver disease.

The roundtable, held at the Royal Society of Medicine in London, was chaired by Professor Graeme Alexander (University College London and senior advisor to the British Liver Trust) who also presented on the prevalence of liver disease in Europe and the role of lifestyle. Dr. Carlo La Vecchia (Professor of Medical Statistics and Epidemiology, Dept. of Clinical Sciences and Community Health, Università degli Studi di Milano) discussed the latest research on coffee and liver health and potential mechanisms. Group discussion focussed on how best to disseminate the latest findings and challenges for both liver associations and healthcare professionals.

Liver disease is a significant concern across Europe, where chronic liver disease is the fifth most common cause of death1and approximately 29 million people in the European Union suffer from a chronic liver condition2.

Key research findings highlighted in the report include:

  • Meta-analyses have suggested that coffee consumption versus no coffee consumption is associated with up to a 40% risk reduction of liver cancer, although this appears to be a dose-dependent relationship3-5.
  • Research from the US6 and Italy7,8 suggests that coffee consumption is consistently associated with a reduced risk of cirrhosis, with a potential risk reduction of 25-70%.
  • Research suggests an inverse association between coffee consumption and risk of chronic liver disease, with an average risk reduction of 25-30% in low coffee consumers, and up to 65% in high coffee consumers9,*.

During the roundtable, Professor Alexander suggested that it is likely that liver cancer develops from an existing liver disease, and proposed that the association between coffee consumption and a reduced risk of liver cancer may in fact link back to an effect of coffee drinking on liver disease.

One of the main issues discussed at the roundtable was the diagnosis of liver disease, and the fact that a majority of sufferers are unaware of their condition. Even though the liver is a vital organ, the perception in some European countries is that liver health is not considered as high a priority as other conditions, such as heart disease.

Professor Graeme Alexander, senior advisor to the British Liver Trust, commented: “Liver disease is on the rise across Europe and it is important that we understand how coffee, one of the most popular drinks in the world, and diet affects the disease. Research suggests that coffee may reduce the risk of liver diseases and it is important patients have access to dietary information and advice from health care professionals in a manner that is easy for them to understand and act upon.”

Judi Rhys, Chief Executive, British Liver Trust said: “Liver disease is a silent killer as often there are no symptoms until it’s too late. Coffee is something that is easily accessible to everyone and regularly drinking it – filtered, instant or espresso – may make a difference in preventing and, in some cases, slowing down the progression of liver disease- it is an easy lifestyle choice to make.”

To read the report, titled ‘Looking after the Liver: Lifestyle, Coffee and Caffeine’ click here.


Readers interested in finding out more about coffee and health can visit:

Notes to editors

  • *definitions of low and high coffee consumption from the studies within the meta-analysis vary and tend to be study specific dependent on levels of coffee consumed by participants.
  • Moderate coffee consumption can be defined as 3–5 cups per day, based on the European Food Safety Authority’s review of caffeine safety6.
  • To read a full overview of coffee and liver function, click here.

Roundtable delegates

  • Professor Graeme Alexander University College London and senior advisor to the British Liver Trust, United Kingdom.
  • Dr. Carlo La Vecchia, Professor of Medical Statistics and Epidemiology, Dept. of Clinical Sciences and Community Health, Università degli Studi di Milano, Italy.
  • HIlje Logtenberg-van der Grient, Physician Educator, Scientific Committee ELPA/Dutch Liver Patient Association, The Netherlands.
  • Andreas Röhrenbacher, Steering Committee Member, Die Hepatitis Hilfe Osterreich, Plattform Gesunde Leber (HHO), Austria.
  • Raquel Peck, CEO, World Hepatitis Alliance, United Kingdom.
  • Dr David Semela, Council Member, Swiss Association for the Study of the Liver, Switzerland.
  • Dr Trisha Macnair, Speciality Doctor/Medical Journalist, NHS, United Kingdom.
  • Dr Ellie Cannon, NHS GP, Abbey Medical Centre, London, United Kingdom.
  • Dr JW Langer, medical doctor, author, lecturer and medical journalist, Denmark.
  • Dr Luca Miele, MD, PhD, Consultant Internist and Hepatologist, University Hospital Policlinico A. Gemelli Foundation, Italy.
  • Dr Beatrice Alfonso PhD, Fondazione Italiana Fegato, ONLUS- Italian Liver Foundation, Italy.
  • Gerardo Reyna, Federación Nacional de Enfermos y Trasplantados Hepáticos, Spain.


  1. European Association for the Study of the Liver (2013) ‘The burden of Liver Disease in Europe: A Review of Available Epidemiological Data’ Available at:
  2. Eurostat (2007) ‘Europe in Figures: Eurostat yearbook 2006-07’ Available at:
  3. Bravi F. et al. (2007) Coffee drinking and hepatocellular carcinoma risk: a meta-analysis.Hepatol, 46:430-435.
  4. Larsson S.C. et al. (2007) Coffee consumption and liver cancer: a meta-analysis.Gastroenterol, 132:1740-1745.
  5. Bravi F. et al. (2013) Coffee reduces risk for hepatocellular carcinoma: An updated meta-analysis.Clin Gastro and Hepatol, 11:1413-1421.
  6. Klatsky A.L. et al. (1993) Coffee, tea, and mortality. Ann Epidemiol. 3(4):375-81.
  7. Corrao G. et al. (1994) The effect of drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes on the risk of cirrhosis associated with alcohol consumption – A case-control study. Europ J Epidemiol, 10 (6): 657–664.
  8. Gallus S. et al. (2002) Does coffee protect against liver cirrhosis? Ann Epidemiol, 12(3):202-5.
  9. Bravi F. et al. (2016) Coffee and the risk of hepatocellular carcinoma and chronic liver disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective studies. Eur J Cancer Prev, 26(5):368-377.
  10. EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA) (2015) Scientific Opinion on the safety of caffeine. EFSA Journal, 13(5):4102.

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