By Aly Walansky
Updated February 19, 2016
Credit: © EYESITE / Alamy

The first thing we all reach for after a big night out may actually help undo the damage we did to our liver. Studies suggest that increasing the amount of coffee we drink can help negate the liver damage related to enjoying too much alcohol.

The New York Post combined the data from nine previous studies, including a total of 430,000 subjects and found that those who drank two additional cups of coffee each day had a 44 percent lower chance of developing liver cirrhosis.

“Cirrhosis is potentially fatal and there is no cure as such,” lead study author Dr. Oliver Kennedy of Southampton University in the UK, is quoted in the article. “Therefore, it is significant that the risk of developing cirrhosis may be reduced by consumption of coffee, a cheap, ubiquitous and well-tolerated beverage.”

Kennedy and his co-researchers had pooled data from various studies, and in 8 of the 9 studies, the increase in coffee consumption led to a decrease in cirrhosis risk. Cirrhosis is directly tied to several health issues – such as obesity and diabetes – but is also highly associated to liver damage from alcohol abuse.

But is this real? Can coffee really be that good for us? “Coffee consumption reduces risk of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), the most common type of liver cancer”, by about 40 percent, according to a study published in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology. The data indicates that three cups of coffee per day reduce liver cancer risk by more than 50 percent,” says Jennifer Fitzgibbon, MS, RD, CSO, CDN, Registered Oncology Dietitian at Stony Brook Cancer Center. “The American Institute of Cancer Research states it is because coffee may act on liver enzymes that eliminate carcinogens. Coffee contains a variety of naturally occurring compounds that may exhibit anti-cancer activity in the body.

“Because coffee is consumed in a wide variety of ways — caffeinated, decaf, black, with milk, without — it is not yet possible to pinpoint a precise amount or preparation that affords optimal protection. In studies, people who drank one cup per day had a 14 percent lower risk of liver cancer than people who did not drink coffee at all,” says Fitzgibbon. “These findings, although preliminary, novel, well-researched, do deserve more attention. It is not suggested for all people to drink coffee daily, this is just a little bit of good news for those of us who enjoy coffee. Drinking mild-moderate amounts of non-fattening non-sugary coffee in addition to optimizing activity and a healthy diet seems like a better option then drinking too much alcohol.”

So, maybe don’t use tons of coffee a rationale for tons of booze. But, with everything in moderation, we’re pretty into this balance.