Limited experimental and epidemiologic data suggest that coffee may reduce hepatic damage in chronic liver disease. The association between consumption of coffee and other beverages and risk of cirrhosis mortality was evaluated in the Singapore Chinese Health Study. This is a prospective population-based cohort of 63,275 middle-aged and older Chinese subjects who provided data on diet, lifestyle, and medical histories through in-person interviews using a structured questionnaire at enrollment between 1993 and 1998. Mortality from cirrhosis in the cohort was ascertained through linkage analysis with nationwide death registry. After a mean follow-up of 14.7 years, 114 subjects died from cirrhosis; 33 of them from viral hepatitis B (29%), two from hepatitis C (2%), and 14 from alcohol-related cirrhosis (12%). Compared to nondrinkers, daily alcohol drinkers had a strong dose-dependent positive association between amount of alcohol and risk of cirrhosis mortality. Conversely, there was a strong dose-dependent inverse association between coffee intake and risk of nonviral hepatitis-related cirrhosis mortality (P for trend = 0.014). Compared to non-daily coffee drinkers, those who drank two or more cups per day had a 66% reduction in mortality risk (hazard ratio [HR] = 0.34, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.14-0.81). However, coffee intake was not associated with hepatitis B-related cirrhosis mortality. The inverse relationship between caffeine intake and nonviral hepatitis-related cirrhosis mortality became null after adjustment for coffee drinking. The consumption of black tea, green tea, fruit juices, or soft drinks was not associated with risk of cirrhosis death.
This study demonstrates the protective effect of coffee on nonviral hepatitis-related cirrhosis mortality, and provides further impetus to evaluate coffee as a potential therapeutic agent in patients with cirrhosis.