Daily Coffee May Lower Risk of Both Liver Disease and Multiple Sclerosis

New studies reveal more potential health benefits of coffee, this time regarding liver and nervous system diseases. Ricardo DeAratanha/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images

There's long been evidence that a cup of coffee can bolster one's mood and help stave-off depression, but new findings suggest the ubiquitous drink may protect both the liver and the nervous system from incurable diseases, too.

Cirrhosis is a disease marked by irreversible scarring of the liver. Although treatment can prolong liver function, there isn't a cure for the disease, and it causes more than 1 million deaths a year around the world. Cirrhosis can be brought on by overeating, the long-term use of alcohol and by viruses like hepatitis B and C. The disease has been classified as a global health burden — and new research suggests that the easily available coffee bean could help mollify its impact.

Researchers led by Dr. Oliver Kennedy of the University of Southampton completed a meta-analysis of nine long-term studies that included several thousand men and women. Their findings, published in the March 2016 issue of Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics, suggest that two cups of coffee per day could reduce the risk of cirrhosis by 44 percent and cut the risk of death from cirrhosis in half.

Coffee, which is widely available and has few side effects, seems to transfer several protective properties to the liver. For example, one study found that people with hepatitis C had reduced liver damage when they drank more coffee. Other tests in people and animals suggested that coffee reduced the risk of liver cancer. At least some of these protective properties appear to halt the development of cirrhosis.

"This could be an important finding for patients at risk of cirrhosis to help to improve their health outcomes," Kennedy says in a Southampton University news release. "However, we now need robust clinical trials to investigate the wider benefits and harms of coffee so that doctors can make specific recommendations to patients."

And in other health-related coffee news, a high coffee intake – in this case, approximately six cups per day – has just been linked to a decreased risk for multiple sclerosis, according to new findings published yesterday in the Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery & Psychiatry. The Swedish study was observational in nature and found the coffee consumption could be associated with about a 30 percent decreased risk for the neurological disease, but that firm cause and effect could not be scientifically proven.