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Liver function

Liver function factsheet

Liver disease is estimated to affect 6% of the global population (approx. 29 million people) and is reported to be the 14th most prevalent cancer and 5th biggest killer in Europe.  
November 11, 2019

Types of liver disease

There are several different categories of liver disease:

  • Liver cancer
  • Alcohol-related liver disease
  • Infective damage, such as Hepatitis A, B, C, D and E
  • Diseases of the bile ducts
  • Fatty liver disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis
  • Hereditary disorders, such as haemochromatosis

Liver disease – a significant health issue

  • Liver disease is estimated to affect 6% of the EU’s population (approx. 29 million people) and is reported to be the EU’s 5th biggest killer1
  • Liver cancer is the 5th most common cause of cancer-related deaths globally and the 14th most prevalent in Europe2. It accounts for 5.4%, or 695,000 deaths worldwide (47,000 deaths in Europe)3. Liver cancer is the leading cause of death amongst patients with liver cirrhosis4
  • It is estimated that over 10 million people in Europe are affected by Hepatitis1
  • 600,000 die of the acute or chronic consequences of Hepatitis B every year5
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that there are about 4 million carriers of Hepatitis C in Europe alone6

Coffee consumption and liver function

  • Drinking moderate amounts of coffee may help to reduce the risk of liver cancer, and the risk of developing liver cancer falls as coffee consumption rises7-9.
  • Moderate coffee consumption may also be related to a slower progression of liver disease. Patients with a higher coffee consumption have been found to display a milder course of fibrosis, especially in alcoholic liver disease10-11
  • The association between moderate coffee consumption and a slower rate of fibrosis has also been seen in patients with hepatic fibrosis12, cirrhosis13, non-alcoholic liver disease14-18 and Hepatitis C19-21
  • It is not yet clear whether, and to what extent, caffeine may be responsible for the reduction in risk of developing these diseases
  • Several different coffee components are being investigated. Kahweol and cafestol, naturally-occurring compounds in coffee, are being studied for their anti-carcinogenic effects22, while the anti-viral properties of chlorogenic and caffeic acids are also under investigation23


  1. The European Liver Patients Association (April 2005).
  2. Ferlay J, et al. (2010). Estimates of cancer incidence and mortality in Europe in 2008. Eur J Cancer. 46(4):765-81.
  3. European Association for the Study of the Liver. Available at:
  4. Sangiovanni A, et al. (2004). Increased survival of cirrhotic patients with a hepatocellular carcinoma detected during surveillance. Gastroenterology. 126(4): 1005-14.
  5. World Health Organisation (WHO). (2008). ‘WHO Fact Sheet No. 204, Hepatitis B’. Available at:
  6. World Health Organisation (WHO). (2010). ‘WHO Fact Sheet No. 164, Hepatitis C’. Available at:
  7. Bravi F. et al. (2007). Coffee drinking and hepatocellular carcinoma risk: a meta-analysis. Hepatology.46:430-5.
  8. Larsson S.C. et al. (2007). Coffee consumption and liver cancer: a meta-analysis. Gastroenterology, 132:1740-1745.
  9. Bravi F. et al. (2013). Coffee reduces risk for hepatocellular carcinoma: An updated meta-analysis. Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology. (11):1413-21.
  10. Gressner OA. (2009). About coffee, cappuccino and connective tissue growth factor – or how to protect your liver!? Environmental Toxicology and Pharmacology. 28(1):1-10.
  11. Saab S, et al. (2013) Impact of coffee on liver disease a systematic review. Liver International. 34(4):495-504.
  12. Modi AA, et al. (2010). Increased caffeine consumption is associated with reduced hepatic fibrosis. Hepatology. 51:201-9.
  13. Stroffolini T,. et al. (2010). Interaction of alcohol intake and co-factors on the risk of cirrhosis. Liver International. 30(6): 867-70.
  14. Catalano D, et al. (2010). Protective role of coffee on non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Digestive Disease and Sciences. 55(11): 3200-06.
  15. Birerdinc A, et al. (2012). Caffeine is protective in patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics. 35(1):76-82.
  16. Molloy JW, et al. (2012). Association of coffee and caffeine consumption with fatty liver disease, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, and degree of hepatic fibrosis. Hepatology. 55(2):429-36.
  17. Gutierrez-Grobe Y, et al. (2012). High coffee intake is associated with lower grade non-alcoholic fatty liver disease: the role of peripheral antioxidant activity. Annals of Hepatology. V11(3):350-5.
  18. Bambha K, et al. (2014). Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis Clinical Research Network (NASH CRN). Coffee consumption in NAFLD patients with lower insulin resistance is associated with lower risk of severe fibrosis. Liver Int. 34(8):1250-8.
  19. Freedman ND, et al. (2009). HALT-C Trial Group. Coffee intake is associated with lower rates of liver disease progression in chronic hepatitis C. Hepatology. 50(5):1360-9.
  20. Costentin CE, et al. (2011). Association of caffeine intake and histological features of chronic hepatitis C. Journal of Hepatology, Volume 54: 1123-9.
  21. Goh GB, et al. (2014) Coffee, alcohol, and other beverages in relation to cirrhosis mortality: the Singapore Chinese Health Study. Hepatology. 60(2):661–9.
  22. Muriel P, et al. (2010). Coffee and liver disease. Fitoterapia, 81:297-305.
  23. Wang GW, et al. (2009). Anti-hepatitis B virus activity of chlorogenic acid, quinic acid and caffeic acid in vivo and in vitro. Antiviral Research. 83(2):186-90.