Mon Jun 12, 4:11 PM ET, REUTERS
Could Irish coffee be the perfect drink?
Researchers reported on Monday that drinking coffee cuts the risk of cirrhosis of the liver from alcohol -- by 22 percent per cup each day -- but they stopped short of saying doctors should prescribe coffee for that reason.
The report from the Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program in Oakland, California, was based on a look at data from 125,580 people.
"These data support the hypothesis that there is an ingredient in coffee that protects against cirrhosis, especially alcoholic cirrhosis," concluded the report published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
What could cause the apparent protective effect is not clear, the report said.
"Coffee is a complex substance with many potentially biologically active ingredients," the study said. "The fact that coffee is also frequently taken with added cream, milk, sugar or other substances adds more possibilities for health effects."
Other studies with similar findings have led to speculation that caffeine could play a role. However, the protective effect was not found among tea drinkers, though the authors said they were not nearly as numerous in the study as coffee users.
The report did not suggest alcohol users increase their coffee consumption or seek out drinks like Irish coffee that combine booze with coffee.
"Even if coffee is protective, the primary approach to reduction of alcoholic cirrhosis is avoidance or cessation of heavy alcohol drinking," the researchers said.