An international team of researchers led by Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School -- a collaboration between the Duke University in North Carolina and the National University of Singapore -- and the Duke University School of Medicine in North Carolina suggest increased caffeine intake may reduce fatty liver in people with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
Worldwide, 70 percent of people diagnosed with diabetes and obesity have non-alcoholic fatty liver disease -- the major cause of fatty liver not due to excessive alcohol consumption.
It's estimated 30 percent of U.S. adults have this condition, and its prevalence is rising in Singapore. There are no effective treatments for the disease except diet and exercise, the researchers said
Dr. Paul Yen, an associate professor and research fellow who was the study leader, and Rohit Sinha of the Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School's cardiovascular and metabolic disorders program in Singapore, observed caffeine stimulates the metabolization of lipids stored in liver cells and decreased the fatty liver of mice that were fed a high-fat diet.
The findings suggest consuming the equivalent caffeine intake of four cups of coffee or tea a day might be beneficial in preventing and protecting against the progression of the liver disease in humans.
"This is the first detailed study of the mechanism for caffeine action on lipids in liver and the results are very interesting," Yen said in a statement.
The findings are scheduled to be published in the September issue of the journal Hepatology.
Researchers are finding coffee may have both positive and negative impacts on people's health. Last week, researchers at a New Orleans hospital said they found those age 55 and younger who drink four or more cups of coffee a day have a 50 percent increased mortality risk from all causes.
But last month, researchers at Harvard University in Massachusetts found that drinking a few cups of coffee daily appears to reduce the risk of suicide by about 50 percent.