Coffee drinking has been linked to the reduced risk of fibrosis progression, liver cirrhosis, and hepatocellular carcinoma in some patients, including those with hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, but the results of studies in patients with hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection have been inconsistent. Given the “global impact of HBV infection and the wide consumption of coffee,” researchers from Tzu Chi University in Taiwan, wanted to find out more.
They analyzed data from 328 patients with chronic HBV infection who were enrolled in a population-based gastroesophageal reflux disease study. Of those, 155 patients also entered into a 5-year follow-up study.
Among the patients with chronic HBV, 137 did not drink coffee. Of the 191 who did, 61 drank it on < 4 days a week, and 130 drank it ≥ 4 days.
Initially, the researchers observed an inverse association between coffee drinking and serum aspartate aminotransferase (AST) levels, as well as predicting indices of liver fibrosis in patients with HBV infection. Patients who drank ≥ 4 cups of coffee per day had a 70% decrease of serum AST, a 70% decrease of the AST to platelet ratio index, and a 70% decrease of fibrosis-4 index values.
Those findings indicated that coffee might have a “generally beneficial” effect on liver inflammation and fibrosis progression in patients with chronic liver disease, the researchers say. However, at the end of the 5-year follow-up, the incidences of liver cirrhosis complications and changes of serum predicting indices of liver fibrosis were comparable between HBV coffee drinkers and nondrinkers. That indicated, the researchers believe, that the beneficial effect “seems to be outweighed” in patients with chronic HBV infection.
The researchers suggest that the protective effects of coffee consumption on liver inflammation and insulin resistance may not be able to surpass the direct carcinogenic effect of HBV, and even the HBV virus replication.