Science! It’s not just the thing “you fucking love” for all those Neil DeGrasse Tyson memes showing up in your Facebook feed; it also helps prove why awesome things like coffee are awesome for you. In a recent article for LiveScience.com, Laura Geggel reports that drinking coffee, decaf included, is beneficial to liver health, sending shockwaves of relief throughout the hard-drinking, hard-partying barista community.

While previous studies have shown a connection between coffee consumption and lower risks of diabetes, cirrhosis, and liver cancer, a new study by Dr. Qian Xiao of the National Cancer Institute shows that drinking decaf coffee is just as beneficial to liver health as drinking regular coffee. To get to these results, which will be published in an upcoming edition of Hepatology, Dr. Xiao and company undertook a daunting amount of research:

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“The researchers looked at about 27,800 people age 20 or older who reported how much coffee they had consumed over the past 24 hours. The team also looked at their blood samples for several markers of liver health, including alanine aminotransferase (ALT), aspartate aminotransferase (AST), alkaline phosphatase (ALP) and gamma-glutamyl transaminase (GGT). Elevated levels of liver enzymes may be a sign of liver damage or inflammation.

They found that participants who reported to drinking three or more cups of coffee daily, be it regular or decaf, had lower liver enzyme levels than those who reported not drinking any coffee at all. Moreover, decaf coffee drinkers experienced an almost identical drop in enzyme levels to those of regular coffee drinkers. Now this doesn’t mean coffee is going to cure your liver disease (not that we’re calling you an alcoholic!) but it just may help, and it is certainly more great news in the “coffee is good for you” camp.


It’s probably safe to say that you, fair reader of Sprudge, are more likely to have a “death before decaf” tattoo than you are to regularly enjoy the calmer brew, so you may be wondering how these results affect you. By showing that both regular and decaf have almost the exact same effects, the study points to there being something in coffee other than just caffeine that is beneficial to liver health.

The magical component is currently unknown and will require additional research, but here are some things Science hasn’t ruled out as the secret sauce: the morning’s first cup, the Zen-like calm of a pour over ritual, pumpkin spice, or when that hot barista flirts with you. Get on it, Science!

Zac Cadwalader is the creator of the Dallas Coffee Collective, and a Sprudge.com staff writer based in Dallas. Read more Zac Cadwalader on Sprudge.

Original illustrations by Cookie Carlsen for Sprudge.com. 

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