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New studies show
Regular Coffee is good for the liver
While decaf may be harmful to the heart

-Photo: theconversation.com

By Tami Stevenson

For coffee lovers world-wide, there is nothing better than waking up to the aroma of freshly ground coffee brewing. Coffee awakens the senses and helps drive out those dull morning conundrums. Coffee is so well-loved, poems have been written about it, T-shirts are donned with coffee mugs filled with expressions of love for espresso. The world’s love for the java, that “cup of Joe” we so passionately crave, is not without its rewards.


According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), studies show drinking three or more cups of regular coffee per day can actually help protect the liver from fibrosis, cirrhosis, Hepatitis B and C and fatty liver disease.


According to NCBI, sixteen studies were included in a report involving 3034 coffee consumers and 132076 people who do not consume coffee. The ultimate conclusion was that caffeinated coffee consumption of three or more cups per day can significantly reduce the risk for hepatic fibrosis, cirrhosis of the liver, hepatitis B and C, and fatty liver disease, even where alcohol is involved. Researchers are now saying coffee consumption of three or more cups per day may save hundreds of thousands of liver‐related deaths per year. The studies concluded those who drank only one to two cups per day did not have nearly as great an effect.


According to an article by Fox News, in August, Sarah Gardner of the liver transplant unit at The Austin Hospital in Australia said in the article that she and colleagues found that if all countries had increased per capita coffee intake from less than two to more than two cups of coffee per day, the predicted number of liver-related deaths would have been 630,947 in 2016, with 452,861 deaths prevented. If the per capita coffee consumed was greater than four cups per day, the predicted number of liver-related deaths in 2016 would have been 360,523 with 723,287 deaths averted, according to the study. Globally, the total number of liver-related deaths in 2016 was an estimated 1,240,201. So five cups per day is even better than three.


However, readers should be warned, they are not talking about the white, artificially flavored hazelnuts, vanillas, and other coffee additives that taste so great and look like cream. These can be detrimental to overall health and should be minimally consumed, not to mention the weight gain. They are referring to black, regular caffeinated coffee with no added flavors or modifications.


Speaking of modifications, studies have also shown that drinking decaffeinated coffee may promote heart disease and help raise “bad” cholesterol, which at high levels can lead to disease of the arteries, according to Robert Superko, at the Piedmont-Mercer Center for Health and Learning in Atlanta, Georgia. However, shortly after publishing his findings other sources defended decaf, saying if you keep the consumption down to one or two cups per day, there should be no side effects.


Methylene chloride and ethyl acetate are used to extract caffein from the coffee beans.Methylene chloride can cause mental confusion, lightheadedness, nausea, vomiting, and headache. The EPA banned consumer sales of methylene chloride in paint removers and the like, November 22, 2019, but say it is okay for humans to ingest. How can this be? The EPA says the chemical is washed away and bonds with the caffeine. A cup of decaf still contains 30 to 70 percent caffeine. If that chemical bonds with the caffeine, that means humans are ingesting methylene chloride with every cup.


Ethyl acetate, i.e., nail polish remover, is the other chemical used, which is highly flammable and toxic when ingested or inhaled but is still allowed by the EPA and FDA to use as a sweetener in confections as an artificial flavor and in the decaffeination process of coffee. Although, out of the two evils, methylene chloride seems to be the most frightening.


These overall findings, however, are good news for regular, caffeinated coffee drinkers everywhere. The more you drink, the more your chances of liver disease go down. In one study, researchers found that putting away two cups a day cut the odds of cirrhosis by 44 percent, and four cups a day lowered them by as much as 73 percent.


So the next time you wrap yourself around your favorite cup of java, remember your liver thanks you.