After analyzing various cell cultures, researchers from the Duke University School of Medicine found that the caffeine from these beverages stimulated the breakdown of lipids found in the liver. Furthermore, mice who were fed a high-fat diet had a decreased risk of developing a fatty liver if they were also given caffeine.
Ultimately, people would need to consume the amount of caffeine present in four cups of tea or coffee every day to protect their livers against NAFLD, the researchers said. NAFLD is a common complication of obesity that causes the accumulation of fat in the livers of people who drink little to no alcohol.
"This is the first detailed study of the mechanism for caffeine action on lipids in liver, and the results are very interesting," Dr. Paul Yen, one of the study authors said in a news release. "Coffee and tea are so commonly consumed and the notion that they may be therapeutic, especially since they have a reputation for being ‘bad’ for health, is especially enlightening."
The Duke study comes on the heels of a study from the Mayo Clinic, which found that drinking four cups of coffee or more a day could lead to premature death. Numerous other research surrounding the caffeinated beverage is mixed, with some touting the drink’s benefits for reducing skin cancer and the incidence of Parkinson’s disease and others warning that drinking coffee could possibly increase a person’s risk for acute myocardial infraction.
Yen and his team also noted that treatments could be created harnessing the positive aspects of caffeine while eliminating the negative effects related to the compound.
The study was published in the journal Hepatology.