If You Drink This Beverage Often, Get Your Kidneys Checked, New Study Says


Maintaining a healthy diet is as much about watching what you drink as it is what you eat. But while the risks of overindulging in sugary sodas and juices or alcoholic beverages are well known, other less obvious items could also be affecting your health. And according to a new study, you could be doing some serious damage to your kidneys if you drink one popular beverage too often. Read on to see what you might want to keep out of your cup.

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Drinking coffee often could be putting your kidneys at risk of renal failure.

The latest research comes from a team at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health that was recently published in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology. Scientists examined 372 blood metabolites in almost 5,000 people, ultimately finding that 41 metabolites were associated with coffee consumption.

Of all the metabolites detected, one—glycochenodeoxycholate, a lipid involved in primary bile acid metabolism—is considered potentially beneficial to kidney health. But two others—o-methylcatechol sulfate and 3-methyl catechol sulfate, which are involved in the metabolism of the preservative benzoate—were also found, which are also typically seen in the system after smoking cigarettes and can lead to renal failure. Researchers say the presence of these metabolites is closely associated with higher risks of developing chronic kidney disease (CKD).

Researchers concluded that coffee could have both benefits and drawbacks for the kidneys.

Ultimately, the researchers concluded that while they didn't take the differences in people's coffee consumption that were also self-reported, the results warranted more study on the topic. "A large body of scientific evidence has suggested that consuming a large amount of coffee is consistent with a healthy diet," Casey Rebholz, PhD, the study leader and a Johns Hopkins associate professor of epidemiology, said in a statement. "We were able to identify one metabolite that supports this theory."

"There were two other metabolites associated with coffee that surprisingly were associated with a higher risk of incident chronic kidney disease," Rebholz added. "These compounds were also associated with cigarette smoking, which may in part explain why these compounds were associated with a higher risk of kidney disease."

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Other recent studies have found increased coffee consumption could prevent kidney stones.

This isn't the only recent study to find a connection between coffee and the health of your kidneys. Research posted in the American Journal of Kidney Diseases on Oct. 21 analyzed genetic data from nearly 572,000 participants from the U.K. and Finland. Unlike the previous study, results showed that taking in a little more coffee could actually have a significant benefit.

"Our findings strongly suggest that regular coffee consumption reduces the risk of kidney stone formation," Susanna C. Larsson, PhD, one of the study's leaders from the Institute of Environmental Medicine at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, said in a statement. She added: "[…G]oing from, for example, one cup a day to 1.5 cups per day, reduces the risk of kidney stones by 40 percent."

The research team explains that increased caffeine intake could help your kidneys stay healthy.

The study's findings uphold some previous research on the connection between caffeine consumption and overall kidney health. The research team explains that caffeine increases urine flow, saying it "represents an important protective factor against the development of kidney stones," adding that it was still essential to match coffee intake with enough water as well to see this benefit.

The team also added that caffeine "can also reduce calcium oxalate crystal adhesion to kidney cells" and that "coffee plants are rich in citric acid; urinary citrate is a known inhibitor of renal stone formation."

"Given the increasing prevalence of kidney stones in the United States and the associated morbidity, it would be great if this turns out to be a new prevention strategy that is both accessible and affordable," Kerry Willis, PhD, chief scientific officer for the National Kidney Foundation, said of the findings.

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