Let's take a moment to appreciate the hot brewed bean water that wakes us up each morning—that delicious conveyor of caffeine without which many of us would revert to dysfunctional zombies—coffee. It serves many purposes: aphrodisiac, drug, outlet for pretense. And a new study suggests it might be beneficial in ways we didn't even realize. According to Business Insider, a team of researchers from Southampton University in the U.K. "analyzed data from nine previously published studies with a total of more than 430,000 participants and found that drinking two additional cups of coffee a day was linked to a 44% lower risk of developing liver cirrhosis."
In case you're unfamiliar, cirrhosis is a condition of the liver by which healthy, functioning tissue is gradually replaced with scar tissue, thus preventing the liver from functioning properly (read: filtering waste out of your system). It has many causes, but one of the most prevalent is drinking too much alcohol. "Cirrhosis is potentially fatal and there is no cure as such," Dr. Oliver Kennedy, the study's lead author, told Business Insider in an email. "Therefore, it is significant that the risk of developing cirrhosis may be reduced by consumption of coffee, a cheap, ubiquitous and well-tolerated beverage."
Kennedy and his team pooled the participants of nine previous studies to come up with 1,990 patients with cirrhosis. In eight of the nine studies analyzed, the risk of cirrhosis fell with each additional cup of coffee consumed. Researchers estimated one cup a day lowered the risk by 22 percent, two cups lowered it by 43 percent, three led to a 57 percent decline, and four cups lowered the risk by 65 percent.
However, Kennedy said, people shouldn't take this study as a blessing to load up on sugary coffee drinks packed with unnecessary fats and carbohydrates. In fact, he's still not sure what in coffee is causing a decreased risk of cirrhosis. "Coffee is a complex mixture containing hundreds of chemical compounds," he said. "It is unknown which of these is responsible for protecting the liver." And although coffee might help when it comes to liver health, it can't magically undo the effects of years of binge drinking or a generally unhealthy lifestyle.