Background information

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The European Association for the Study of the Liver estimates approximately 29 million people in the European Union suffer from a chronic liver condition1. Chronic liver disease is the fifth most common cause of death in Europe2.

Data suggests that about 0.1% of the European population is affected by cirrhosis, corresponding to an estimated 170,000 deaths per year. There are large intra-European variations, for example about 0.1% of Hungarian males will die of cirrhosis every year compared with 0.001% of Greek females1.

Hepatitis, the most common liver disease, is estimated to affect over 10 million people in Europe1.

Liver cancer is the fifth most common cause of cancer-related deaths globally, and the 14th most prevalent in Europe3. It accounts for 5.4%, or 695,000 deaths worldwide (47000 deaths in Europe)1,4. Liver cancer is the leading cause of death amongst patients with liver cirrhosis5.

Epidemiological projections suggest an increase in the number of people at risk of chronic liver disease6.

In 1992, the first study on the Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program cohort in California reported that coffee drinking might protect against liver cirrhosis7. In this study, 59 cases of liver cirrhosis were diagnosed and subjects who drank four or more cups of coffee per day had 80% less chance of developing liver cirrhosis than non-coffee drinkers.

In 1993, in a second study by the same group, it was reported that coffee drinkers had 23% less chance of dying from liver cirrhosis than non-coffee drinkers8.

The results of these two prospective cohort studies started a series of studies and publications about associations between coffee consumption and diseases of the liver.

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