Fibrosis risk may be reduced with coffee consumption in fatty liver disease patients. The growing rates of diabetes, obesity, and metabolic syndrome resulted in the greater prevalence of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), which is becoming the leading cause of chronic liver disease. In some patients, NAFLD progresses into its extreme form, nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), characterized by the inflammation of the liver, destruction of liver cells, and scarring of the liver. Ten to 11 percent of NASH patients go on to develop cirrhosis of the liver over the course of 15 years.
The researchers surveyed participants from a previous NAFLD study and NASH patients undergoing liver treatment. The 306 subjects were asked about their caffeine consumption and were categorized into one of four groups: steatosis, NASH stage 0-1, NASH stage 2-4, and control group (no sign of fibrosis on ultrasound).
Analysis revealed a negative correlation between coffee consumption and the risk of hepatic fibrosis. Study lead Dr. Stephen Harrison explained, “Our study is the first to demonstrate a histopathologic relationship between fatty liver disease and estimated coffee intake. Patients with NASH may benefit from moderate coffee consumption that decreases risk of advanced fibrosis. Further prospective research should examine the amount of coffee intake on clinical outcomes.”
Fatty liver and liver fibrosis
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is characterized by the abnormal accumulation of fat within the liver. When fat accumulates in the liver, it prevents the liver from performing its many functions, potentially leading to scarring and further damage. Complications associated with NAFLD include liver cancer, fluid accumulation, gastrointestinal bleeding, and mental changes.
Liver cirrhosis is an irreversible liver condition. By the time liver disease progresses to cirrhosis, treatment options are limited. Alcohol and viral hepatitis B and C are the most common causes of cirrhosis.
Cirrhosis may cause weakness, loss of appetite, easy bruising, yellowing of the skin (jaundice), itching, and fatigue.
There are actually over 100 different types of liver disease that can impact the function of the liver.
Cirrhosis occurs after fibrosis, which is the scarring of the liver. It is an advanced stage of liver disease, so by the time you receive a diagnosis of cirrhosis, most of the damage has already been done. As scar tissue continues to develop, the liver’s ability to perform its many functions deteriorates.
There are no specific therapies for non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, but patients are advised to reduce weight, eat a balanced and healthy diet, exercise regularly, avoid alcohol, and avoid unnecessary medications. These guidelines are also recommended for patients with cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cholesterol, and blood pressure issues as these are standard treatment approaches to improve overall health.
Losing weight is heavily stressed in NASH treatment. Studies have shown weight loss can significantly improve disease outcome and, in some cases, reverse the existing damage. The research is underway to determine the percentage of weight loss required for the greatest improvement in liver health.
NASH patients generally have higher incidences of other medical conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension, or cholesterol. To improve the outcomes, it’s important that these other medical conditions are properly managed in order to reduce the risk of complications or further deterioration of liver health.