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Coffee may lower risk of acute kidney problems, study finds

Researchers are adding to the growing evidence that drinking coffee is good for your health

Drinking coffee concept
Photo (c) stay2gether - Getty Images
Previous studies have already shown that there are some health benefits associated with drinking coffee. Now, a new study conducted by researchers from Johns Hopkins Medicine has discovered an additional health benefit connected to the beverage. 

According to their findings, coffee drinkers may have a lower risk of developing acute kidney injuries (AKIs) when compared to non-coffee drinkers. 

“We already know that drinking coffee on a regular basis has been associated with the prevention of chronic and degenerative diseases including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and liver disease,” said researcher Dr. Chirag Parikh. “We can now add a possible reduction in AKI risk to the growing list of health benefits for caffeine.” 

Benefits of drinking coffee

For the study, the researchers analyzed data from over 14,200 participants between the ages of 45 and 64 who were enrolled in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study. Participants were surveyed seven times over the course of two and a half decades to determine how many cups of coffee they typically drank each day; the team then tracked the participants’ health outcomes over the course of the study. 

The team identified a link between coffee consumption and a lower risk of AKIs. Drinking any amount of coffee was associated with a 15% lower risk of kidney injuries. When the team accounted for health factors that may make AKIs more likely -- such as diabetes status, high blood pressure, and high body mass index scores (BMI) -- coffee drinkers still had an 11% lower risk of kidney injuries. 

“We suspect that the reason for coffee’s impact on AKI risk may be that either biologically active compounds combined with caffeine or just the caffeine itself improves perfusion and oxygen utilization within the kidneys,” said Dr. Parikh. “Good kidney function and tolerance to AKIs is dependent on a steady blood supply and oxygen.” 

The team plans to do more work in this area to understand how different caffeinated beverages affect consumers’ kidney health and to get a better idea of the precise ways that coffee affects AKIs. 

“Caffeine has been postulated to inhibit the production of molecules that cause chemical imbalances and the use of too much oxygen in the kidneys,” Dr. Parikh said. “Perhaps caffeine helps the kidneys maintain a more stable system.” 

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