Two coffees a day could keep the doctor away

ELEANOR HALL: Bacon may no longer be on your breakfast menu.But the latest scientific study into caffeine suggests that you can relax about your morning coffee.Researchers at Melbourne's Monash University have found that two coffees a day may even be beneficial for your health.Monash University gastroenterologist, Dr Alex Hodge, has found that caffeine can help fight liver disease and other conditions.He is in San Francisco presenting his findings to the annual meeting of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases. He spoke to our reporter Rachael Brown about his research:ALEX HODGE: We looked at over 1100 with a variety of liver diseases and the most common being the fatty liver disease which affects up to 40 per cent of adult Australians. And we found that there's an association between coffee, so how much coffee you drink, and less degree of liver disease - so liver scarring and possibly liver fat. We are using a non-invasive ultrasound tool, we looked at how much scar tissue was in our patients that come through our clinics. And when we took into account all of those factors you would probably associate with coffee drinking; so alcohol, smoking age, weight, height all those things and we accounted for all those things, coffee comes out on top as being associated with less liver diseaseIt's probably one of the larger studies looking at coffee consumption and people with liver disease; it certainly lends more weight to further research in this field, because coffee is the second most consumed beverage in the world.RACHAEL BROWN: Caffeine just one of a lot of substances in coffee, have you worked out how coffee in particular bolsters the liver?ALEX HODGE: No we don't know what type of brew is the best and which of these constituents are the best at helping the liver, that research just hasn't been done yet. I can't go out and tell you yes you should have a drip coffee versus an espresso, versus a Turkish coffee we just don't know that yet.RACHAEL BROWN: How many coffees would you be recommending to people?ALEX HODGE: Well so the best effect we've seen in people with Hepatitis C had two or more cups a day. So the effect was found at two cups. If you have fatty liver that effect was at four cups so that's pretty much all I can say, two or four. More than that we just don't have the evidence for and certainly you would probably use some common sense and not have excessive amounts.RACHAEL BROWN: Then you're looking at other side effects like high blood pressure and anxiety.ALEX HODGE: Well anxiety yes, anxiety in some people who are sensitive to caffeine. High blood pressure interestingly only transiently, it tends to go away after a few hours and long term studies show that there is no increase blood pressure in people who drink coffee over long periods of time.RACHAEL BROWN: You studied patients with Hep C and Hep B and fatty liver, but some people have liver conditions without even knowing it, would you be recommending more coffee for people regardless?ALEX HODGE: I mean I guess the short answer is yes, because the average person, I think having a few cups of coffee a day - provided they are not pregnant or have other health issues - it's probably not a bad thing. And what you said about people not knowing about liver disease, those would be the people who have their weight around the middle, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and those people are often likely to have fatty livers as well, so that's the disease that they might not know that they have.RACHAEL BROWN: You're presenting your findings in San Francisco at the moment have you been able to find a good cup of coffee? ALEX HODGE: Mmmmmm not really.ELEANOR HALL: (Laughs) That's Monash University gastroenterologist, Dr Alex Hodge speaking with Rachel Brown in San Francisco, and of course he normally resides in Melbourne. Source: abc