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Coffee & Health
Liver function

Associations between alcohol and liver enzymes are modified by coffee, cigarettes, and overweight in a Swedish female population

K Mehlig et al, 2021.
Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology, published online.
December 6, 2021



To examine whether positive associations between alcohol and liver enzymes were modified by coffee consumption, smoking, or weight status in a female population.


Regular consumption of beer, wine, and spirits was assessed in a representative cohort of 1462 Swedish women aged 38-60 in 1968, and re-assessed in 1974. In 1980, gamma-glutamyltransferase (GGT) and aspartase transaminase (AST) were measured in 1130 women. Exposures were averaged over values obtained in 1968 and 1974. Multivariable linear regression linked total ethanol intake to log-transformed enzyme values, including interactions by coffee, smoking, and overweight in mutually adjusted models.


Coffee consumption significantly modified the association between ethanol intake and liver enzymes. One g/day higher ethanol intake was associated with 5.5 (3.5, 7.5)% higher values of GGT, and 1.2 (0.4, 2.1)% higher values of AST in women consuming 0-1 cups of coffee per day, while smaller or no effects were observed in women consuming ≥2 cups/day. Synergistic interactions were observed for ethanol and smoking, and for ethanol and overweight. Average alcohol-related effects on GGT in smokers and non-smokers were given by 3.8 (2.7, 4.9)% and 2.1 (0.9, 3.2)% per g ethanol/day, and by 0.9 (0.4, 1.4)% and 0.2 (-0.3, 0.7)% for AST. Similarly, in overweight women, 1 g/day higher ethanol intake was associated with 4.3 (3.0, 5.6)% higher GGT compared to 1.6 (0.7, 2.5)% in non-overweight women.


The results suggest that coffee consumption reduces the enzyme-raising effect of ethanol in the presence of synergistic interactions with smoking and overweight, specifically in women.

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