Coffee drinkers tend to get a bad reputation in today’s world — whether it’s a comment on our bad breath (it’s not bad, just an acquired taste) or a mention of the completely unfounded myth that coffee stunts your growth. Finally though there is some good news for all those who worship the dark-colored beverage. As if we needed a reason to get our daily caffeine fix, a new study has linked drinking more than two cups of coffee a day to a 66 percent decrease in the likelihood of dying from cirrhosis, particularly in non-viral hepatitis.

The Singapore Chinese Health Study aimed to discover what effects different beverages had on cirrhosis sufferers. For the study, researchers used 63,275 subjects, all with the ages of 45 and 74, and noted their lifestyle choices and medical history. The patients were also followed for nearly 15 years. In this time, 114 of them died from liver cirrhosis. The findings of the study indicate that those who drank at least 20 grams of ethanol on a daily basis were at the highest risk for cirrhosis. This was not surprising because alcohol consumption has long been associated with cirrhosis deaths.

What surprised researchers was a significant decrease in risk of death for those who drank coffee on a daily basis. Their likelihood of dying from cirrhosis, particularly non-viral hepatitis-related cirrhosis decreased by 66 percent, compared to those who did not drink coffee. This most common form of non-viral hepatitis-related cirrhosis is non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). This is a chronic liver disease related to the metabolic syndrome and more sedentary affluent lifestyles. Deaths caused by viral hepatitis B-related cirrhosis were not affected by coffee consumption. Other beverages included in the study, which showed to have no effect on the participants' lifespans, were black tea, green tea, fruit juice, and soft drinks.

A report by the World Health Organization attributed a total of 1.3 percent of worldwide deaths each year to liver cirrhosis. It is the 11th leading cause of death in the United States. “The findings resolve the seemingly conflicting results on the effect of coffee in Western and Asian-based studies,” Dr. Woon-Puay Koh, lead researcher of the study, explained in a recent press release. Past studies have also related coffee consumption with lowered rates of progression in hepatitis C-related liver disease.

So there you have it, next time you feel guilty about having your third Starbucks before 12 p.m., remember that you may be helping out your liver, so drink without remorse.

Source: Boon-Bee Goh G, Chow W, Wang R, Yuan J, Koh W. Coffee, Alcohol and Other Beverages in Relation to Cirrhosis Mortality: The Singapore Chinese Health Study. Hepatology. 2014