Coffee is associated with a reduced risk of hepatocellular carcinoma in patients with chronic C hepatitis. This prospective trial was aimed at assessing the mechanisms underlying coffee-related protective effects.
Forty patients with chronic hepatitis C were randomized into two groups: the first consumed 4 cups of coffee/day for 30 days, while the second remained coffee “abstinent”. At day 30, the groups were switched over for a second month.
At baseline, aspartate aminotransferase and alanine aminotransferase were lower in patients drinking 3–5 (Group B) than 0–2 cups/day (Group A) (56±6 vs 74±11/60±3 vs 73±7 U/L p = 0.05/p = 0.04, respectively). HCV-RNA levels were significantly higher in Group B [(6.2±1.5)×105 vs (3.9±1.0)×105 UI/mL, p = 0.05]. During coffee intake, 8-hydroxydeoxyguanosineand collagen levels were significantly lower than during abstinence (15±3 vs 44±1 8- hydroxydeoxyguanosine/10 5 deoxyguanosine p = 0.05 and 56±9 vs 86±21 ng/mL, p = 0.04). Telomere length was significantly higher in patients during coffee intake (0.68±0.06 vs 0.48±0.04 Arbitrary Units, p = 0.006). Telomere length and 8-hydroxydeoxyguanosine were inversely correlated.
In chronic hepatitis C coffee consumption induces a reduction in oxidative damage, correlated with increased telomere length and apoptosis, with lower collagen synthesis, factors that probably mediate the protection exerted by coffee with respect to disease progression.