Coffee can give your liver a helping hand, Utah health expert says

Posted at 8:09 AM, Jan 13, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-13 10:09:25-05

SALT LAKE CITY — Is coffee good or bad for your health? The breakfast beverage has received mixed reviews in this context over the years.

According to Dr. Richard Gilroy, a hepatologist and Intermountain Healthcare’s Liver Transplant Medical Director, coffee is helping his patients live longer.

“Its greatest benefits are in alcohol-associated liver disease and also in fatty liver disease,” explains Gilroy.

These conditions cause fat to buildup in the liver, and oftentimes, people don’t experience symptoms right away. Over time, and if left untreated, they can lead to liver scarring or cirrhosis, cancers, and ultimately the need for a liver transplant.

Between Intermountain Healthcare and the University of Utah Health systems, 119 Utahns needed liver transplants last year, which is a record number, according to Gilroy.

“I think what we need to also do is say let’s give everyone a little helping hand in the morning,” he explains.

And that help is in the form of:

  • 2-3 cups of coffee per day
  • Caffeinated or decaffeinated
  • Cutback on cream and sugar

Coffee can only do so much to curb the problem that impacts millions nationwide. Gilroy says the community must address risk factors, too, which promote the deposit of fat in the liver.

That includes obesity, and those rates continue to rise.

Gilroy believes making lifestyle changes like choosing a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, and exercising more can make a difference.