Coffee intake linked to improved SVR in patients undergoing treatment for hepatitis C

Authors Norma C. McAvoy, Peter C. Hayes.


Several epidemiological studies have linked coffee consumption to beneficial effects on liver function tests and also protective against the development of hepatocellular carcinoma (1,2). Recently the association of coffee intake and liver disease progression was prospectively examined in participants of the HALT-C trial (3) which demonstrated that higher coffee consumption at baseline (defined as >3 cups/day) was associated with less severe steatosis on biopsy, lower AST/ALT ratio and lower insulin and HOMA2 score. The relationship of coffee consumption and its effect on therapy for hepatitis C has not been evaluated till this study.

Coffee consumption was recorded in 885 patients with Hepatitis C using a food frequency questionnaire prior to retreatment with peginterferon α-2α and ribavirin. Patients were assessed for early virological response (EVR) (defined as ≥ 2 log10 drop in HCV RNA at week 12) and undetectable HCV RNA at 20, 48 and 72 weeks (sustained virological response (SVR)). 85% of study population drank coffee with 14.9% of participants drinking ≥3cups/day.Higher percentage of patients who drank ≥ 3 cups/day tolerated full dose peginterferon (60.6% vs 50.4%, p=0.0015). After adjustment for age, race/ethnicity, sex, alcohol, cirrhosis, AST/ALT ratio, IL28B polymorphism rs12979860 and dose reduction of peginterferon, odds ratio for drinking ≥ 3 cups coffee/day vs non-drinkers were 2.0 (95% CI:1.1-3.6; p trend= 0.004) for EVR, 2.1 (95% CI:1.1-3.9, p trend= 0.005) for week 20 virological response, 2.4( 95% CI:1.3-4.6, p trend= 0.001) for end of treatment response and 1.8 (95% CI:0.8- 3.9; p trend= 0.034) for SVR.

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