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Caffeine, HCV and Liver Health

January 27, 2005

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The following report is of interest because I’ve heard for many years that liver patients need to abstain from caffeine consumption. To be honest, I’ve consistently included about a cup a day in my diet (along with a pot of green tea and lots of water).

This article makes me feel better, still, about my choice. I never thought of it as being therapeutic, I just figured that one cup would not do much damage (if any).

Even though it is only one study, this is a fairly large study.

Incidentally, I do not drink any alcohol at all anymore. It is common knowledge that alcohol is a potent liver toxin. In fact, it is used in a medical procedure to kill small liver cancer tumors. They actually inject alcohol into the specific site of the tumor because alcohol is such and effective and efficient liver cell killer.

Coffee and Caffeine Consumption Reduce the Risk of Elevated Serum Alanine Aminotransferase Levels

Based on experimental and epidemiologic studies, researchers at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases investigated whether coffee and caffeine consumption reduced the risk of elevated alanine aminotransferase (ALT) activity in persons at high risk for liver injury in a national, population-based study.

Participants were 5,944 adults in the Third US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1988–1994, with excessive alcohol consumption, viral hepatitis, iron overload, overweight, or impaired glucose metabolism.

Liver injury was indicated by abnormal serum ALT activity (>43 U/L).


Elevated ALT activity was found in 8.7% of this high-risk population.

In unadjusted analysis, lower ALT activity was associated with increasing consumption of coffee (P = .001) and caffeine (P = .001). Multivariate logistic regression analyses showed that the risk of elevated ALT activity declined with increasing intake of coffee (P for trend = .034) and caffeine (P < .001).

Comparing persons who drank more than 2 cups per day with non coffee drinkers, the odds ratio was .56 (95% confidence interval, .31–1.0). Comparing persons in the highest caffeine quintile with the lowest, the odds ratio was .31 (95% confidence interval, .16–.61).

These relationships were consistent across subgroups at risk for liver injury and were relatively unchanged when analyses included the entire population or when limited to persons without impaired liver function or right upper quadrant pain.

Fasting insulin concentrations did not mediate the effects.

In conclusion, the authors write, “In this large, national, population-based study, among persons at high risk for liver injury, consumption of coffee and especially caffeine was associated with lower risk of elevated ALT activity.”

This study was supported by a contract from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.



C E Ruhl and J E Everhart. Coffee and caffeine consumption reduce the risk of elevated serum alanine aminotransferase activity in the United States. Gastroenterology 128(1): 24-32. January 2005.



Magic Bullet For Hepatitis C?

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Comments provides information regarding hepatitis and liver disease. Comments are available to the community in order to discuss these topics and obtain answers to questions through community members. The Editors at will not be responding to questions or comments posed in article comments.

  • Nursey7

    Dear Ralph:
    Just a few months can make such a difference …don’t you think?…on the same information collected years ago…It will be my pleasure to tell the study docs what I think about their study….To quote Dannoff “These findings are shocking”…
    Caffeine May Prevent Liver Damage
    By Steven Reinberg, HealthDay Reporter
    May 20, 2004
    HealthDayNews — If you are at risk for liver disease, drinking caffeinated coffee and soda may help protect you from getting it, a new study shows.
    According to research presented at the Digestive Disease Week meeting in New Orleans, a researcher from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases found people at high risk for liver problems can reduce their risk by drinking coffee and other caffeinated beverages.
    There have been other studies that have shown this effect from caffeine, said lead researcher Dr. James E. Everhart. However, why caffeine protects against liver disease is not known.
    “Caffeine blocks one receptor found in the brain and liver. This may have immunological effects, but this is really speculative,” he added.
    In their study, Everhart and his colleague, Dr. Constance E. Ruhl from Social and Scientific Systems in Silver Spring, Md., collected data on 5,944 men and women who were at high risk for liver injury.
    The subject’s risk came from excessive drinking, hepatitis B or C, iron overload, obesity or impaired sugar metabolism.
    All the subjects participated in the third U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. As part of the study, the subjects were asked to report how much coffee, tea and soft drinks they consumed.
    Everhart and Ruhl found the more coffee and caffeine these people drank, the less likely they were to develop liver injury. This finding was the same for all age, gender and ethnic groups.
    In addition, the protective effect was stronger for caffeine than for coffee.
    LABORATORY WORK IS NEEDED to figure out why caffeine has this effect, Everhart said. “More importantly, this finding should stimulate more clinical research in people with liver disease to see whether either drinking coffee or consuming caffeine has an effect,” he added.
    Dr. Jonathan A. Dranoff, an assistant professor of internal medicine, said the finding is “provocative and worthy of further investigation.”
    The next step, Dranoff said, is to do a study of patients and randomize them into caffeine or no-caffeine groups. “This is the best way to test if this hypothesis is true,” he added.
    “THESE FINDINGS ARE SO SHOCKING that they deserve much more intense investigation before you can draw any conclusion,” Dranoff said.——-

  • Nursey7

    Caffeine and Diabetes
    As we all know, recently, a link between Hepatitis C and diabetes was found….and insulin resistance, makes it more difficult for treatment to work…
    Caffeine Causing Diabetes?
    by Raymond Francis
    Diabetes is a disease condition distinguished by an inability to control blood-sugar levels, due to insufficient production of or heightened resistance to the hormone insulin. Interestingly, diabetes researchers induce diabetes in laboratory animals by feeding them small doses of a chemical called alloxan. Alloxan poisons insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, killing those cells and thus creating the conditions of diabetes. Knowing this, imagine the surprise of Dr. Alfred Nickel, an oral surgeon with degrees in biochemistry and pharmacology, who discovered in the scientific literature that alloxan is produced in the body from caffeine. Dr. Nickel theorized that caffeine could be a significant cause of diabetes in humans. People who consume a lot of caffeine will produce a lot of alloxan; this could cause diabetes or make existing diabetes worse.
    Dr. Nickel was a heavy coffee drinker himself and had also developed adult diabetes. His diabetes got worse over time, and he was taking insulin to manage his disease. He decided to experiment?first on himself. He went off of all caffeine; after two weeks he was able to go off of insulin, and has remained off ever since! This had a profound effect on Dr. Nickel’s health in general. His eyesight returned to where it had been fifteen years prior and his energy levels soared. He then passed this information on to his patients, and 40 out of 45 diabetics were able to reverse their disease by removing caffeine from their diet. Dr. Nickel witnessed patients, who were so sick with diabetes they were unable to climb up stairs, suddenly able to throw away their crutches away and run! He observed blood glucose levels return to normal after only a few weeks on a caffeine-free diet.
    Caffeine consumption in the US is now at pharmacological (medically significant) levels. The dose of caffeine that will produce noticeable biological effects is roughly 200 mg. The average per capita consumption is now 206 mg/day, however, someone consuming 6 to 8 cups of coffee per day can be getting as much as 4000 mg/day. Due to biochemical individuality, some people are more or less tolerant to specific toxins than others. Those who are less tolerant to caffeine-produced alloxan, will likely get sick.
    Alloxan is a free radical generator. Free radicals are known to damage the body, causing it to age and develop disease, including cancer. Since alloxan damages the pancreas, it may specifically be a contributor to pancreatic cancer. In fact, while Dr. Nickel and I were discussing this topic on my radio show, a woman called in and told us about her husband who died of pancreatic cancer after consuming as many as 16 cups of coffee a day for many years.
    Many caffeinated products are popular with kids, and diabetes is rapidly growing in that age group. Medical experts have expressed alarm at the increasing rates of adult diabetes found in children. Meanwhile, caffeine has blossomed into a multi-billion dollar industry, largely aimed at teens and college students. Manufacturers are putting it into just about everything they can think of. Wrigley has a chewing gum in which one stick contains the caffeine equivalent of a cup of coffee. Pepsi and Coke have always contained substantial amounts of caffeine, and these companies have other products (Mountain Dew and Surge) with even higher quantities. Jolt Cola, a soda aimed at the 15-21 year-old market, contains 50 percent more caffeine than other sodas and continues to increase in its popularity. Jolt Cola even has a candy called Jolt, which is advertised as, “America’s most powerful candy.” Even orange juice and bottled water are now available in caffeinated versions. A few years ago, Celestial Seasonings introduced a highly caffeinated “Fast Lane Tea.” Caffeine is a prolific toxin in our diet, and consumption keeps going up!
    While there is rarely a single cause of disease, it appears that caffeine is a major contributor to disease. Caffeine is a significant contributor to our epidemic of diabetes, depression, and perhaps pancreatic cancer as well as other diseases. Interestingly, it is well known that caffeine can produce a “high,” but less known that it can also cause depression. So why consume all this caffeine? Because we need it to get through the day. The U.S. population is not healthy, and we lack the boundless energy of traditionally healthy populations. Instead, we look to stimulants like caffeine to rev up the system. This is like constantly whipping a tired horse-eventually that horse will collapse.
    Anyone with diabetes should absolutely avoid all caffeine from any source. Those wishing to prevent diabetes should sharply limit caffeine intake from coffee, soft drinks, tea, chocolate, or any other source. The damage done to the pancreas by alloxan from caffeine is cumulative; the longer it goes on, and the more caffeine one ingests, the more irreparable damage is done. Even decaffeinated products should be avoided, because the decaffinating process removes only the unbound, soluble caffeine. These products still contain a bound form of caffeine that is capable of producing alloxan.
    Raymond Francis is an M.I.T.-trained scientist, a registered nutrition consultant, author of Never Be Sick Again, host of the Beyond Health Show and an internationally recognized leader in the emerging field of optimal health maintenance.

  • impius

    I’m new here if errors in my posting method please advise ?
    This article caught my eye as a Hepc sufferer , and coffee junkie. Isn’t caffiene a diuretic ? If it is then if the body is excreting more urine , and thereby increasing fluid intake (at least you should to compensate ?) isn’t that having a flushing effect on all the organs (liver,kidneys etc). So wouldn’t that help eliminate build ups of toxins .
    Just a laymans view , and I found this