Caffeine Intake Linked to Liver Health

Singapore—International researchers at Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School and Duke University School of Medicine have found that increased caffeine intake may be beneficial to those with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

The study, which was recently published in the journal Hepatology, followed researchers who fed mice a high-fat diet. They then observed that caffeine stimulated lipid metabolism in their liver cells and decreased fatty liver in the mice. The authors concluded that the caffeine equivalent of four cups of coffee or tea per day may be beneficial in preventing and protecting against the progression of NAFLD in humans.

NAFLD affects 30% of American adults, and is especially prevalent in those diagnosed with diabetes and obesity. Diet and exercise are the only effective treatments for the condition at this time.

According to the study’s lead, associate professor and research fellow Paul Yen, M.D., this is the first study conducted that looks closely at caffeine’s effect on lipids in the liver. “Coffee and tea are so commonly consumed,” Yen says, and he is excited to learn that they can be beneficial, “especially since they have a reputation for being ‘bad’ for health.”

The team hopes that their research may lead to the development of drugs that contain the beneficial aspects of caffeine, but none of the side effects. 


Published in WholeFoods Magazine, Novembe 2013 (online 9/18/13)