Coffee Consumption and Prevention of Cirrhosis – In Support of the Caffeine Hypothesis
It is widely acknowledged that coffee is the most widely used drug on Earth. While this is true, coffee is also a foodstuff with wide variation, so its use is often directed at satisfying dietary urges. When used as a drug, coffee is almost invariably used as a stimulant rather than to treat or prevent particular diseases. Thus, it has been an exciting revelation in recent years that coffee consumption is inversely related to progression of liver fibrosis to cirrhosis and even hepatocellular carcinoma. As is often the case, epidemiological observations have preceded pathophysiological explanations for this effect. Only recently have experiments in cellular and animal models provided biological plausibility for coffee as an antifibrotic agent in the liver. In an important recent article, Arauz and colleagues examine one of the key questions regarding the antifibrotic role of coffee – specifically what is the primary antifibrotic agent in coffee. Consideration of this question merits a brief review of the relevant issues with regards to coffee as an antifibrotic agent for patients with chronic liver disease.
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