Kidney injury: How one cup of coffee a day could reduce the risk – study

Kidney failure: Expert outlines the symptoms of condition

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A new study by a team at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in the US showed that people who drank any quantity of coffee every day had a 15 percent lower risk of acute kidney injury (AKI). And the largest difference was found in those who drank two to three cups a day – a 22 percent to 23 percent lower risk. In a paper, published by Kidney International Reports, researchers said: “Coffee is one of the most frequently consumed beverages worldwide and has been found to have a wide assortment of health benefits.

“Although habitual coffee consumption is associated with a lower incidence of chronic kidney disease, an association between coffee and acute kidney injury (AKI) has not yet been revealed.”

To gather the data, a cohort of 14,207 adults aged 45 to 64 years was observed.

Their coffee consumption, measured as cups per day, was assessed at a single visit via food frequency questionnaires and compared with hospitalisations due to AKI.

The study explains: “In ARIC (the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study), there were 1,694 cases of incident AKI in a median of 24 follow-up years.

“Higher coffee consumption was associated with lower AKI risk versus no consumption

“Trends for AKI risk across coffee categories remained significant after multivariable adjustment for age, sex, race-center, education, total daily energy intake, physical activity, smoking, alcohol intake, diet quality, systolic blood pressure, diabetes status, use of antihypertensive agents, estimated glomerular filtration rate, and body mass index.

The report concludes: “Higher coffee intake was associated with a lower risk of incident AKI and could present an opportunity for cardiorenal protection through diet.”

However, it adds: “Further evaluation of the physiological mechanisms underlying the cardiorenal protective effects of coffee consumption is necessary.”


Researchers considered reasons for the health benefits of coffee.

The paper adds: “The most often studied compound in coffee is caffeine, a methylxanthine alkaloid and an adenosine receptor antagonist that significantly alters kidney function by rapid-acting mechanisms, including modification of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system, baseline renal plasma flow, hemodynamics, and natriuresis.

“Caffeine also inhibits sodium reabsorption in the proximal and distal tubules of the kidney, thus increasing solute and free water excretion, and has been postulated to fully inhibit the local tubule-glomerular feedback response to increase distal sodium delivery.

“Other less-studied bioactive compounds in coffee including chlorogenic acids, chlorogenic acid lactones, p-coumaric acid, nicotinic acid, theobromine, and trigonelline must also be considered as potential contributors to coffee’s cardiorenal protective effects, as many of these polyphenol compounds are potent plant-based antioxidants that have been found to improve generalised inflammation and oxidative stress,12 key factors in the development of AKI.”

Acute kidney injury (AKI) is where your kidneys suddenly stop working properly.

It can range from “minor loss” of kidney function to “complete” kidney failure.

The NHS says: “AKI normally happens as a complication of another serious illness.

“It’s not the result of a physical blow to the kidneys, as the name might suggest.

“This type of kidney damage is usually seen in older people who are unwell with other conditions and the kidneys are also affected.”

Symptoms of AKI include:

  • feeling sick or being sick
  • diarrhoea
  • dehydration
  • peeing less than usual
  • confusion
  • drowsiness

The NHS adds: “Even if it does not progress to complete kidney failure, AKI needs to be taken seriously.”

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