Coffee Consumption Associated With Less Liver Stiffness


Individuals who drink more than 3 cups of coffee a day had decreased liver stiffness.

Coffee is associated with less liver stiffness, but not steatosis, and may be beneficial for people with or at risk for liver disease, according to a study published in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

The researchers examined the impact of coffee consumption with liver fibrosis and steatosis in a sample of individuals from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Past research from one of the authors showed that sugar-sweetened drinks increased liver stiffness and steatosis.

“In this study, we examine the effect of coffee consumption on liver stiffness accounting for diet quality, sugary beverages, and comparing it to the effect of consumption of caffeine, tea, or decaffeinated coffee,” the authors explained.

The study included 4510 individuals at least 20 years old who had completed an elastography exam. The researchers also obtained information such as age, gender, ethnicity, and data on alcohol consumption, vigorous physical activity, and more.

They evaluated the impact of coffee, decaffeinated coffee, and tea on controlled attenuation parameter (CAP), a method for detection and quantification of hepatic steatosis. As part of the NHANES, participants took part in two 24-hour dietary recalls, which they used to quantify coffee consumption. These dietary recalls are considered “the most accurate and complete description of dietary intake,” the authors noted.

“There was no association between any drink and CAP,” the authors wrote, but age, Hispanic and Asian race, body mass index (BMI), diabetes, and high school education were associated with increased CAP scores, while Black race, female sex, and vigorous physical activity were associated with reduced scores.

Individuals who drank more than 3 cups of coffee had decreased liver stiffness measurement (LSM), but there was no significant association between decaffeinated coffee and tea and LSM. While BMI, diabetes, alcohol consumption and the lack of alcohol consumption (J-shaped association) were associated with increased LSM, Black race and female sex were associated with decreased LSM.

The authors noted some limitations: since the data are cross-sectional, associations with clinical outcomes cannot be inferred; there is possible unmeasured confounding; and the 24-hour dietary recalls could be based on 2 days that are not representative of the subject’s overall diet behavior.

“In the absence of randomized trials, these cross-sectional, nationally representative data employing direct measures of liver health and gold standard dietary inventories provide some of the strongest possible evidence for this association,” the authors concluded.


Niezen S, Mehta M, Jiang ZG, and Tapper EB. Coffee consumption is associated with lower liver stiffness: a nationally representative study. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. Published online October 6, 2021. doi:10.1016/j.cgh.2021.09.042

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