Purpose: To evaluate the effect of the consumption of caffeine-containing beverages on the risk of symptomatic liver cirrhosis (LC).
Methods: From 1994 to 1998, all the consecutive cirrhotic inpatients admitted in 19 collaborative hospitals for signs of liver decompensation in whom the diagnosis of liver cirrhosis was made for the first time (274 cases) and one or two gender, age, and place of residence pair matched individuals (458 controls) were recruited. Data on years of education, lifetime cigarette use, lifetime intake of alcohol- and caffeine-containing beverages, usual consumption of 180 food items, and on markers of hepatitis B and C viral infection were collected.
Results: A statistically significant trend toward lowered cirrhosis risk with increasing exposure to coffee was observed. The LC odds ratios decreased from 1.0 (reference category: lifetime abstainers from coffee) to 0.47 (95% confidence interval: 0.20, 1.10), 0.23 (0.10, 0.53), 0.21 (0.06, 0.74), and 0.16 (0.05, 0.50) in 1, 2, 3, and 4 or more cups of coffee drinkers, respectively. There was no convincing evidence that coffee consumption modifies the effects of the known risk factors of liver cirrhosis (alcohol intake and viruses infection).
Conclusions: These findings support the hypothesis that coffee, but not other beverages containing caffeine, may inhibit the onset of alcoholic and nonalcoholic liver cirrhosis.