The Cure for Drinking? More Drinking!


A study published last week in the Archives of Internal Medicine suggests that coffee may be the antidote to too much alcohol consumption in more ways than one. Subjects who drank less than one cup of coffee a day were 30 percent less likely to develop alcoholic cirrhosis of the liver; the risk reduction was 40 percent for one to three cups and 80 percent for four or more cups. Tea drinking had no apparent impact on cirrhosis risk, indicating that caffeine is not the protective factor (assuming the relationship is causal).

Between this study and the discovery that coffee is rich in antioxidants, the stuff is beginning to seem positively healthful. As I noted last year, Americans are pathetically eager to learn that what they enjoy is also good for them, and in this case you have the added appeal of one vice helping to ameliorate the harmful effects of another. The researchers are predictably quick to play down that angle. "Even if coffee is protective," they say, "the primary approach to reduction of alcoholic cirrhosis is avoidance or cessation of heavy alcohol drinking."

NEXT: Trading One Addiction for Another?

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  1. I want strict liability for bars and restaurants that serve alcohol without also serving coffee. There should be a large sign informing all customers that coffee consumption is necessary to protect against liver damage.

    I’m more libertarian than all of you.

    (I’m feeling naughty.)

  2. “Subjects who drank less than one cup of coffee a day were 30 percent less likely to develop alcoholic cirrhosis of the liver …”

    Jacob, that sentence is a bit confusing … do you mean subjects who drank *some* coffee but less than one cup? And do you mean less likely than people who drink no coffee at all?

  3. The subject for this blog post could absolutely have been the same as the one for the previous post.

  4. Irish coffee anyone?

  5. We don’t use the “I” word in this house, Fred.

  6. Buzz Beer, I love you.

  7. Phil,

    Looking at the abstract it would appear that all three groups are compared vs non-coffee drinkers. So that first group would be those that drink coffee, but at a rate of less than one cup per day, are 30% less likely to develop cirrhosis than non-coffee drinkers.

  8. Too bad for me I guess. I love the taste and smell of good coffee, but caffeine makes me fall to sleep within a few hours of consuming it (unless I consume more). It also makes me irritable and, after the buzz is gone, very depressed.

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