A study suggests that regular consumption of coffee may decrease an individual's risk to liver disease.

To be exact, coffee protects the body from catching primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC), a disease that attacks the bile and causes swelling and obstruction inside and outside the liver. If left untreated, it may lead to cirrhosis of the liver, liver failure and biliary cancer. Treatment usually involves liver transplant.

Dr. Craig Lammert, lead author of the study and a Mayo Clinic gastroenterologist said "We're always looking for ways to mitigate risk, and our first-time finding points to a novel environmental factor that also might help us to determine the cause of this and other devastating autoimmune diseases."

During the study, they divided the participants into three groups: PSC diagnosed patients, primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) patients, and healthy patients. They were asked to drink coffee within a monitored period of time where they saw a decrease on the risk of the PSC patients. However, there was very minimal effect on the PBC patients.

The study also established another difference between PSC and PBC. This was based on Dr. Konstantinos Lazaridis, a Mayo Clinic hepatologist and senior study author, observation. "Moving forward, we can look at what this finding might tell us about the causes of these diseases and how to better treat them," he said.

The results of the study were presented at the Digestive Disease Week 2013 conference in Orlando, Florida. It was also published in an online health website Mayo Clinic last May 18.

According to the St. Louis University Liver Center, around 25 million Americans, or 1 in every 10, are or have been affected with liver and biliary disease with 50 percent of them showing no symptoms. Around 1.2 million in the United States have hepatitis B which is responsible to over 5,000 deaths yearly.