We have good news for your liver, you caffeine junkie. Drinking more than four cups a day of coffee may increase your chances of dying, but it’s not going to be non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) that kills you.
This pro-caffeine upswing in the will-or-won’t-it-kill-us debate about coffee—and, in this case, tea—comes courtesy of researchers at Duke University School of Medicine. They will publish a new study of caffeine’s effects on liver disease in cell cultures and mice in the September issue of Hepatology. The gist of the findings, according to a press release, is that drinking four cups of coffee or tea per day may help in “preventing and protecting against the progression of NAFLD in humans.”
Paul Yen, M.D., the lead doctor on the study, said in the statement, “Coffee and tea are so commonly consumed and the notion that they may be therapeutic, especially since they have a reputation for being ‘bad’ for health, is especially enlightening.”
This being a bunch of doctors—people who are concerned with more than offering coffee lovers a justification for their socially acceptable stimulant habits—they’re thinking about ways to apply the findings of this research that go beyond keeping a bunch of pixel-pushers awake in the dragging hours of the afternoon. NAFLD is diagnosed in 70 percent of people who have diabetes and obesity, and the fatty deposits on their livers are similarly debilitative to those caused by alcohol. Except in the case of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, getting on the wagon isn’t going to help resolve the condition—diet and exercise are the only ways to combat the disease. But if coffee can curb NAFLD, then why not “caffeine-like drugs that do not have the usual side effects related to caffeine, but retain its therapeutic effects on the liver”?
But until then: Drink more coffee and
stay awake save your liver!