Is there an association between coffee drinking and liver function?

A number of researchers have considered associations between coffee consumption, type 2 diabetes, liver function and metabolic syndrome.

  • In 2011, researchers at Harvard conducted a randomised controlled trial looking at the effects of caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee on biological risk factors for type 2 diabetes. They compared participants who consumed either 5 cups per day of soluble caffeinated coffee, decaffeinated coffee, or no coffee for 8 weeks. Compared with consuming no coffee, consumption of caffeinated coffee increased adiponectin and interleukin-6 concentrations, possibly reflecting anti-inflammatory and insulin sensitizing effects, whilst consumption of decaffeinated coffee decreased fetuin-A concentrations, a biomarker for inflammation and liver function. No significant differences were found between treatment groups for measures of glucose tolerance, insulin sensitivity and insulin secretion. The authors concluded that improvements in adipocyte and liver function, as indicated by changes in adiponectin and feutin-A concentrations, may contribute to beneficial metabolic effects of long-term coffee consumption49.
  • Coffee consumption has also been related to a decreased risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus among those with high levels of serum γ-glutamyltransferase, an enzyme found mainly in the liver that is typically used as a marker for liver disease. A 2012 study in a Japanese population examined the association between coffee and glucose tolerance and the effect of modification of serum γ-glutamyltransferase on this association. These authors found coffee drinking to be protective against glucose intolerance. Furthermore, they suggested that the observed possible effect modification of serum γ-glutamyltransferase on the protective association between coffee and type 2 diabetes warrants further research50.

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