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Coffee protects against alcoholic cirrhosis

A sobering cup of joe after a night of hard drinking may provide some people an unexpected benefit: protection from cirrhosis, a liver-scarring disease that's common in alcoholics.

More than 5 million people in the United States have cirrhosis, typically from heavy alcohol use. However, only about a quarter of chronic drinkers end up with the disease, leading some researchers to hypothesize that lifestyle factors have a protective effect.

To search for such factors, Arthur L. Klatsky of the Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program in Oakland, Calif., and his colleagues analyzed data recorded over more than 2 decades from 125,000 patients enrolled in the large health care plan. Between 1978 and 1985, these people had given detailed information on a variety of personal habits, including how much alcohol, coffee, and tea they drank.

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