Drinking coffee and tea keeps liver healthy

CoffeeIncreased caffeine intake may reduce fatty liver in people with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. (Reuters)

Drinking four cups of tea or coffee daily can help those with fatty liver disease keep their organ healthy, scientists, including one of Indian-origin, have found.

An international team of researchers led by Duke- National University of Singapore Graduate Medical School (Duke-NUS) and the Duke University School of Medicine suggest that increased caffeine intake may reduce fatty liver in people with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

Worldwide, 70 per cent of people diagnosed with diabetes and obesity have NAFLD, the major cause of fatty liver not due to excessive alcohol consumption.

There are no effective treatments for NAFLD except diet and exercise.

Using cell culture and mouse models, the study authors - led by Paul Yen, associate professor and research fellow, and Rohit Sinha, of the Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School's Cardiovascular and Metabolic Disorders Programme in Singapore - observed that caffeine stimulates the metabolisation of lipids stored in liver cells and decreased the fatty liver of mice that were fed a high-fat diet.

These findings suggest that consuming the equivalent caffeine intake of four cups of coffee or tea a day may be beneficial in preventing and protecting against the progression of NAFLD in humans, researchers said.

"This is the first detailed study of the mechanism for caffeine action on lipids in liver and the results are very interesting," Yen said.

"Coffee and tea are so commonly consumed and the notion that they may be therapeutic, especially since they have a reputation for being "bad" for health, is especially enlightening," Yen added.

The team said this research could lead to the development of caffeine-like drugs that do not have the usual side effects related to caffeine, but retain its therapeutic effects on the liver.

The findings will be published in the journal Hepatology.

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