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Study Says Coffee Protects Against Cirrhosis 261

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the irish-coffee-all-around dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Good news for those who like both coffee and alcohol. In a recent study of more than 125,000 people an Oakland, CA medical team found that consuming coffee seems to help protect against alcoholic cirrhosis. The study was done based on people enrolled in a private northern California health care plan between 1978 and 1985." From the article: "People drinking one cup of coffee per day were, on average, 20% less likely to develop alcoholic cirrhosis. For people drinking two or three cups the reduction was 40%, and for those drinking four or more cups of coffee a day the reduction in risk was 80%."
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Study Says Coffee Protects Against Cirrhosis

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  • by packetmon (977047) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @06:33PM (#15528238) Homepage
    Being I drink about 12-16 cups a day I'm glad to know my alcholism won't be doing much to me. I think I'll have a shot now followed by some starbucks
  • Fox coverage (Score:5, Informative)

    by WinEveryGame (978424) * on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @06:34PM (#15528244) Homepage
    I just heard unbelievably bad coverage on this report on Fox. The "expert" said:

    This report proves coffee is good, and tea is bad

    hmm.. perhaps Starbucks is involved somewhere..

  • How about... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GenKreton (884088) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @06:34PM (#15528247) Journal
    we drink neither and break our social and behavioral substance dependencies.
    • by Sponge Bath (413667) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @06:45PM (#15528332)
      You first. Tell us how that works out.
      • Re:How about... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Durinthal (791855)
        Don't start and you'll never have to stop.
        • Worked for me. Well, I'll have a cuppa joe once in a while, but more out of looking for a hot drink rather than needing it. I've got caffeine pills that keep me covered. He says, posting at 4:30am.
      • It works just fine. /drinks neither alcohol nor coffee, because they both taste awful
    • we drink neither and break our social and behavioral substance dependencies.

      There's something to be said about "breaking substance dependencies" being modded funny

      Then again, those of us that live in glass houses....
      • I rarely drink anything aside from water and white milk (anywhere between skim and 2%). Never drank any coffee or alcohol of any kind, I don't like pop (less than once every several months) or even chocolate milk (once every few years, on average). I'm an oddity, really, but very likely healthier for it.

        But then I'm a college student, so I guess I have a long road ahead of me.
        • I rarely drink anything aside from water and white milk .....But then I'm a college student, so I guess I have a long road ahead of me.

          Yes the next step would be breast milk....
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I'll drink to that.
    • by Soko (17987) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @07:00PM (#15528434) Homepage
      You'll get my whiskey, smokes and coffee when... err...

      Let's rephrase that.

      Try and take them away, and I'll get my whiskey, smokes and coffee back out of your cold dead hands.

      Soko
    • Re:How about... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by iamlucky13 (795185)
      On a serious vein, it shouldn't even be necessary to point out that this is hardly free license from a health standpoint to hit the bottle hard every night, then clear up the headache and the liver the next morning with a triple frapa-mocha-something-or-another the next morning, but I'm going to say it anyway.

      This would be like a condensed version of the running joke with modern pharmeceutical products: Take one of pill A before bed to cure your insomnia. Then take one of pill B to prevent indigestion ca
      • Funny you should mention headaches.

        Here's why coffee might protect people from alcoholic liver disease.

        Caffeine fights headaches (Anacin contains caffeine, btw).

        More caffeine -> less headaches -> less taking of acetaminophen -> less liver disease.

        Alcohol + acetaminophen is dangerous, alcohol induces CYP 2E1 which converts acetaminophen into a heptotoxin (NAPQI) which depletes glutathione, which causes liver damage.

        N-Acetyl-Cysteine stops the liver damage too, it is used as a antidote to acetaminoph
        • So your saying that what the medical community has mistaken for alcoholic cirrhosis all these years is actually caused by drinkers taking painkillers? There are a lot of drinkers who fight their hangovers with more alcohol. Presumably their livers are OK too.
  • Of course (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TJ_Phazerhacki (520002) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @06:35PM (#15528254) Journal
    Those drinking that many cups a day complained of chronic heartburn, discolored teeth, an inability to sleep correctly, and of course there's the addictive aspect.

    What doesn't kill you today only makes you stronger - until they find out that it too can kill you!

    • I enjoy food so hot it makes others cry from 10 metres and I don't even know what "heartburn" actually is, my teeth are just fine thank you, and sleep is for pussies. Just finishing up pot #2 for today, like most every other day.

      Feel free to make up whatever bullshit makes you feel good about yourself though.
      • sleep is for pussies
        Why yes, it is. Studies have shown that your typical house cat sleeps between 16-18 hours a day.
  • Thanks study (Score:3, Interesting)

    by CrazyJim1 (809850) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @06:35PM (#15528256) Journal
    This is not a recommendation to drink coffee, nor is it a recommendation that the way to deal with heavy alcohol consumption is to drink more coffee,"
    Ah yes, but does the study conclude that if I drink a lot of coffee that I am entitled to drink a lot of alcohol now?
  • That will be good to remember then when I'm having my caffeine induced coronary .
    • That will be good to remember then when I'm having my caffeine induced coronary .

      I heard alcohol helps to mitigate heart attacks.

      Hey wait a minute... :-/
  • by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @06:36PM (#15528265)
    Set me up with another Irish coffee barkeep, heavy on the Irish!
  • by Tackhead (54550) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @06:37PM (#15528269)
    From the .sig file...

    I must drink beer.
    Beer is the painkiller.
    And beer is the little drink that brings total satisfaction.
    I will drink my beer.
    I will permit it to pass through me.
    And where the beer has gone there will be nothing.
    Only a hangover will remain.

    It is by caffeine alone I set my mind in motion,
    It is by the beans of Java that thoughts acquire speed,
    The hands acquire shakes, the shakes become a warning,
    It is by caffeine alone I set my mind in motion.

  • by wpmegee (325603) <wpmegee@ya[ ].com ['hoo' in gap]> on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @06:37PM (#15528274)
    Does it bother anyone else that the data in question is 21 years old? 1985 seems like an eternity ago - this from a guy born in 1982. I'm not a statistician or a doctor, but couldn't there have been a myriad of things that happened in between 1985 and now? Furthermore, if you drink coffee, most people I know drink at least 2 cups daily so I'm not sure you can draw any meaningful distinctions between 1 and 2 cups. Also, what about other caffeine sources like soda?
    • It's not the cafffffffffffffffeine. Definitely notttttttt the caffeiiine.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @06:48PM (#15528351)
      I don't think humans have evolved enough over the last 21 years to have changed the influence of alcohol and caffeine :-)
      That being said, I also question that it should take that long to conclude on the data collected.
      • "That being said, I also question that it should take that long to conclude on the data collected."

        Arguably the most important part of the data (how many of the subjects went on to develop cirrhosis) could only be collected very recently. Were you expecting them to just guess how many would eventually get the disease?

      • That being said, I also question that it should take that long to conclude on the data collected.
        It takes a while before you get cirrhosis. A short-term study wouldn't be very meaningful at all.
    • It's kind of hard to study long term effects of something with a short term sample size.

      You do raise a good point, however: How do we know it's not something else that happened in that time? That's why you look at large numbers and correlations between those numbers. That's also why it's not absolute or definite. Coffee is linked to this, but it's not set it stone. More studies and experiments will need to be done to determine what, if anything, caused this condition.
    • by Pedrito (94783) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @06:55PM (#15528402) Homepage
      Also, what about other caffeine sources like soda?

      As is pointed out in the study, they don't know that caffeine is the cause. Coffee is loaded with all kinds of bioactive chemicals and it could be any of them. It could even be the cream or sugar people sometimes put in coffee. So the fact is, they have no idea why this is the case. What they'll probably need to do is kill a few hundred mice and rats with booze and coffee to figure out why and how it works.

      As for the age of the data, it isn't really that old. It takes time to develop alcoholic cirrhosis and they're basically using historical data to determine who got it and who didn't and based on a questionnaire they filled out at the time of their enrollment in the health care plan, they were able to determine their coffee and alcohol habits. That said, a lot of alcoholics don't admit how much they drink on those kinds of things, so I'm not entirely sure how they can measure the accuracy. Alcoholics usually admit their drinking habits after the evidence is so obvious they can't hide it (like after they've developed alcoholic cirrhosis).
      • Alcoholics usually admit their drinking habits after the evidence is so obvious they can't hide it (like after they've developed alcoholic cirrhosis).

        Which, by the way, is related to the bogus statistics on alcohol-related disease increases (especially cirrhosis) right after the repeal of prohibition.

        Seems that cirrhosis was evidence of illegal alcohol use during prohibition. (And if you think the current drug war is extreme, it ain't NOTHIN' like its predecessor. Think "evidence of illegal drug use" to g
    • This New Scientist article comes short to provide any data about the absolute risk rates. Sure it's easy to make headlines with those impressive relative risk rate reductions: 80% reduction for heavy (4 cups and more/day) coffee drinkers!

      But here are the actual absolute risk rates for alcoholic cirrhosis among the general population, as interpreted from the actual study (Archives of Internal Medicine 166:1190:Table 1)

      No coffee: 0.16%
      Less than 1 cup: 0.14%
      1-3 cups: 0.18%
      4 cups and more: 0.11%

      Whet
    • I could tell you were born in '82 from your slashdot ID. I'm pretty obviously '83. Anyway when I look at "1985" I don't think "WOW! Old!" yet, but 1982 is so very long ago, you old person. The 70's? I can't imagine a world with disco and without an internet on which to complain about it.
  • Drew Carey is a genuis!
    • Actually, coffee stouts/porters were common before the Drew Carey Show. Not exactly revolutionary. I don't mean to take away from such a classic show or anything. I'm just saying..

      -matthew
    • Meh. Screw that. Here's how I roll...

      1 part tequila (good tequila makes it better, obviously)
      3 parts Mountain Dew

      I call it a "Margarita Douche".
  • by fm6 (162816) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @06:41PM (#15528297) Homepage Journal
    Encasing your body in concrete has been shown to reduce your risk of injury due to personal assault.
  • Cirrhosis specifics (Score:5, Informative)

    by Morinaga (857587) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @06:42PM (#15528303)
    I'm not too proud to admit I wasn't sure exactly what Cirrhosis of the liver was despite hearing the jargon several times in the past. Here's some reference.

    http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/cirrhosis/DS00373 [mayoclinic.com]
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcoholic_liver_cirrh osis [wikipedia.org]

  • The Joys of Coffee (Score:4, Interesting)

    by TylerTheGreat (848804) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @06:45PM (#15528329)
    NPR also ran this story [npr.org] earlier today saying that people who drink 2 cups of coffee are better listeners than those who don't. We've been drinking this stuff for how long and we're just now figuring this stuff out? What will they find out next?
  • by Penguin Programmer (241752) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @06:45PM (#15528334) Homepage
    This just confirms something that many of us have known for years: beer and coffee have a very precise balance in the body. If you throw the balance off, then you feel like crap.

    That's why before your first coffee of the morning, you feel bad. Then, you feel good once you've had your coffee. But by the time late-afternoon rolls around, you definitely feel like crap again and go for a beer. The beer makes you feel better until you go to bed. Rinse and repeat.

    • Spanish saying: One drink is just right; two is too many; three are too few.

      Non-linear dose effects have been understood in human culture since the advent of overripe fruit. I can't drink without balancing my electrolytes: one small cup of strong coffee for every two pints of beer.

  • by rehashed (948690) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @06:45PM (#15528336)
    .... then a paper will be published on how coffee is a primary cause of cirrhosis
  • by DAldredge (2353) <SlashdotEmail@GMail.Com> on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @06:52PM (#15528380) Journal
    Caffine GOOD!

    No negative effects@!!!!

    NONE NONE!!!!

    Caffine GOOD!!!!
  • Ohhhh... (Score:3, Funny)

    by supabeast! (84658) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @06:58PM (#15528422)
    Well, this explains why Grampa isn't dead yet. We were wondering...
  • by neatfoote (951656) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @07:28PM (#15528575)
    Based on the way that study is described, it doesn't sound as though the data necessarily supports a clear-cut causality between coffee-drinking and cirrhosis reduction. They based the results on a questionnaire, after all, and many of those are far too broad (and too sloppily answered) to give precise data about an individual's real consumption of either alcohol or coffee.

    The most that this data proves is a correlation between higher reported coffee consumption and reduced cirrhosis-- and there are a ton of other reasons why that might be the case. Maybe heavy drinkers of alcohol tend to under-report their consumption of other harmful substances (like caffeine) out of guilt. Maybe higher caffeine consumption makes heavy drinkers drink a little less. Maybe coffee-drinking indicates a more white-collar lifestyle, which in turn might indicate better education and healthier life habits, any of which might itself be responsible for the diminished cirrhosis. As usual, the pop-sci treatment jumps to an easy causal conclusion that's far from being warranted by the facts.
    • MOD PARENT UP!!

      The most that this data proves is a correlation between higher reported coffee consumption and reduced cirrhosis-- and there are a ton of other reasons why that might be the case. Maybe heavy drinkers of alcohol tend to under-report their consumption of other harmful substances (like caffeine) out of guilt. Maybe higher caffeine consumption makes heavy drinkers drink a little less. Maybe coffee-drinking indicates a more white-collar lifestyle, which in turn might indicate better educati

      • Could everybody please tattoo this on their penis so they'd be seeing it a couple times a day: "correlation does not imply, suggest, hint at causation in any way, shape or form".

        Hmmm ... That might not help the few females here. Do geek girls have boyfriends? If so, I guess they could tattoo their penises.

        Anyway, fact is that correlation does hint at causation. Problem is that the causation could go either direction, and there are usually a number of other factors innvolved. All too often, both of the c
  • Well duh! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Alsee (515537) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @07:36PM (#15528615) Homepage
    Well duh!

    If you're drinking two cups of coffee with your Cheerios at breakfast, that's two Martinis that you're not drinking with your Cheerios at breakfast.

    -
    • If you're drinking two cups of coffee with your Cheerios at breakfast, that's two Martinis that you're not drinking with your Cheerios at breakfast.

      Right, I can save 'em for lunch!

      (or are you saying that the coffee is cancelling out the two Martinis with breakfast? If so, more power to ya!)
  • but i'm sure a lot of people forgot about this one already.. if you're gonna drink til you pass out remember to have a pot of joe in the morning to cure the hangover and keep your liver alive ;)
  • Coffee gives me a similar length word with two 'r' in it.
  • As an adjunct, they noted that consuming tea does not have a similar effect.

    Doc: Nurse, this man's liver is failing! Get him four cups of coffee, strong and black!

    Nurse: But, Doctor, he's caffeine intolerant - it says it interacts with his other meds.

    Doc: Oh, ok, in that case, give it to me, I'll drink it.
  • If only this story also touched on the NSA trying to use their unconstitutionally acquired data to find recreational drug users, I’d have the most on-topic .sig EVAR!

  • Sweet! So 17 beers helps prevent prostate cancer [dailymail.co.uk] and coffee prevents cirrhosis... Besides the 30 trips to the bathroom a day from drinking a pot of coffee and 17 beers I'm all set!!!
  • Selection bias. They have no way for controlling the quantity of alcohol that these people consume NOR the number of years for which they consume it. Even alcoholics all drink different amounts of alcohol. Therefore you have no way of knowing if the coffee drinkers also tend to drink less alcohol (ergo, less damage to the liver), which is a very plausible explanation. The authors even admit they don't have a biologically plausible theory for why coffee might protect the liver.

    And 20% is nothing with a s
    • Who has room for alcohol when they've drunk 4 cups of coffee per day?

      Uh... what's that? You're supposed to drink a few liters of water pet day but if you drink 4 cups (~1 liter) of COFFEE, then you're filled up and can't drink nor eat anything else? I'll tell ya who has room for alcohol, even right after 4 coffees. There's that mechanism that evacuates unneeded fluids through your, erm.. noodly appendage. Try to take a piss sometime, you might actualy enjoy it.
  • Everyone is talking about the connection between coffee and Cirrhosis without examining how alcohol causes Cirrhosis. The trick that coffee is doing is marginally reversing the harmfull effects that cause Cirrhosis. Basically the alcohol depleats the nutrients that the liver needs, causing Cirrhosis. The coffee has some of the nutrients that alcohol removes. The better idea is to replenish ALL of the nutrients so as to feel no ill-effects from alchohol (as far as health is concerned).

    There is a great bo
  • by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @10:56PM (#15529446) Journal
    Have to update the old joke about the ineffectiveness of using coffee to sober up.

    Q: What do you get when you feed coffee to a drunk?
    A: A wide-awake drunk (with a healthy liver.)
  • Cheers! (Score:2, Funny)

    by Nuitana (794207)
    I highly recommend coffee, tequila & Bailey's. This news explains why I was in such good shape when I drank it.
  • I mean come on, you can only handle so much fluid. Sixteen cups of water a day will provide complete protection against alcoholic cirrosis of the liver...

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