Field Notes

Coffee Consumption Associated With Reduced Risk of Liver Disease

Drinking caffeinated or decaffeinated coffee, whether ground or instant, is associated with a reduced risk of developing chronic liver disease and related liver conditions, according to a study recently published in the open access journal BMC Public Health.

Researchers at the Universities of Southampton and Edinburgh in the United Kingdom (UK) found that drinking any type of coffee was associated with a reduced risk of developing and dying from chronic liver disease compared with not drinking coffee, with the benefit peaking at three to four cups per day.

The authors studied UK Biobank data on 495,585 participants with known coffee consumption who were followed over a median of 10.7 years to monitor who developed chronic liver disease and related liver conditions.

Compared with non–coffee drinkers, coffee drinkers had a 21% reduced risk of chronic liver disease, a 20% reduced risk of chronic or fatty liver disease, and a 49% reduced risk of death from chronic liver disease.

Of the participants included in the study, 78% (384,818) consumed ground or instant caffeinated or decaffeinated coffee, while 22% (109,767) didn’t drink any type of coffee. During the study period, there were 3,600 cases of chronic liver disease, including 301 deaths. In addition, there were 5,439 cases of chronic liver disease or steatosis (a build-up of fat in the liver also known as fatty liver disease), and 184 cases of hepatocellular carcinoma, a type of liver cancer.

The maximum benefit was seen in the group who drank ground coffee, which contains high levels of the ingredients kahweol and cafestol, which have been shown to be beneficial against chronic liver disease in animals.

Instant coffee, which has low levels of kahweol and cafestol, also was associated with a reduced risk of chronic liver disease. While the reduction in risk was smaller than that associated with ground coffee, the finding suggests that other ingredients, or potentially a combination of ingredients, may be beneficial.

Lead study author Oliver Kennedy, MD, PhD, says, "Coffee is widely accessible, and the benefits we see from our study may mean it could offer a potential preventive treatment for chronic liver disease. This would be especially valuable in countries with lower income and worse access to health care, and where the burden of chronic liver disease is highest."

The authors caution that, as coffee consumption was reported only when participants first enrolled in the study, the study doesn’t account for any changes in the amount or type of coffee they consumed over the 10.7-year study period. As participants were predominantly white and from a higher socioeconomic background, the findings may be difficult to generalize to other countries and populations.

The authors suggest that future research could test the relationship between coffee and liver disease with more rigorous control of the amount of coffee consumed. They also propose validating their findings in more diverse groups of participants.

— Source: BioMed Central


Mental Well-Being Higher in the Summer vs Fall

Mental distress tends to be lower in the summer when compared with the fall, according to new research from Binghamton University, State University of New York.

“Our results suggest that summertime is associated with better diet quality, higher exercise frequency, and improved mood. This is important for the post-COVID era as we are getting into the summer season,” says Lina Begdache, PhD, an assistant professor of health and wellness studies at Binghamton University.

Begdache previously had published research suggesting that mental distress and exercise frequency are associated with different dietary and lifestyle patterns. In a new study, Begdache and colleagues wanted to investigate the nature of the associations between diet quality, sleep quality, exercise, seasonal changes, and mental distress among men and women based on age groups—reflective of brain maturity—to potentially describe their intricate role in mental distress.

“Taken all together, our results confirmed the hypothesis that risk factors for mental distress are dynamic,” Begdache says. “They also suggest that improving one factor may positively impact all others. For instance, if it’s hard to improve diet or up exercise frequency, starting with adjusting the sleep cycle may ease the task. Likewise, upping exercise frequency may improve diet and sleep quality. This cycle will eventually lead to improving mental well-being, according to our results. Additionally, our results support the notion of personalizing therapies based on gender and age groups.”

The researchers collected daily data on diet, sleep, overall well-being, exercise, and mental distress from individuals of different ages and followed them for four weeks in the summer and fall, for two years. The reason for the seasonal change was to account for alterations in circadian rhythm.

The researchers found the following:

• Good-quality diet was associated with mental well-being.

• Good sleep quality was associated with mental and overall well-being, as well as with higher diet quality and exercise frequency.

• Seasonal changes had an impact on diet quality and mental health. Mental distress tended to be lower in the summer when compared with the fall.

• Seasonal changes were associated with alterations in diet quality and mental well-being.

“The association between diet, sleep, exercise, and seasonal changes in relation to mental distress is complex and multidimensional. These variables are intertwined in a way that a shift in one factor may alter directionality of others and, consequently, impact mood,” Begdache says. “Therefore, it’s crucial to recognize the dynamic relationships between these lifestyle factors and mental distress to provide the groundwork necessary for nutritionists and health care professionals to improve prophylactic and therapeutic approaches.”

— Source: Binghamton University, State University of New York