In a prospective cohort study with 14,207 middle-aged participants, those who drank any quantity of coffee every day had a 15% lower risk of acute kidney injury, with the largest reductions observed in the group that drank two to three cups a day.
Coffee is one of the most frequently consumed beverages worldwide.
It contains a wide variety of compounds, including caffeine, diterpenes, and chlorogenic acid, which fully develop after the bean roasting process and are reported to have an assortment of health benefits.
Habitual coffee consumption is associated with the prevention of chronic and degenerative diseases, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and liver disease.
A previous population study revealed that higher self-reported daily coffee consumption was associated with a lower risk of incident chronic kidney disease after adjustments were made for demographic, clinical, and dietary factors.
Thus, habitual coffee consumption has a strong potential for reducing the risk of progressive kidney disease.
“We can now add a possible reduction in acute kidney injury risk to the growing list of health benefits for caffeine,” said Professor Chirag Parikh, director of the Division of Nephrology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
“Acute kidney injury, as described by the National Kidney Foundation, is a sudden episode of kidney failure or kidney damage that happens within a few hours or a few days.”
“This causes waste products to build up in the blood, making it hard for kidneys to maintain the correct balance of fluids in the body.”
“Acute kidney injury symptoms differ depending on the cause and may include: too little urine leaving the body; swelling in the legs and ankles, and around the eyes; fatigue; shortness of breath; confusion; nausea; chest pain; and in severe cases, seizures or coma.”
“The disorder is most commonly seen in hospitalized patients whose kidneys are affected by medical and surgical stress and complications.”
In their research, Professor Parikh and colleagues analyzed data from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study, an ongoing survey of cardiovascular disease in four U.S. communities.
They assessed 14,207 adult participants recruited between 1987 and 1989 with a median age of 54 and the following self-endorsed coffee drinking habits: 27% never drank coffee; 14% drank 3 cups/day.
During the survey period, there were 1,694 cases of acute kidney injury recorded.
When accounting for demographic characteristics, socioeconomic status, lifestyle influences and dietary factors, there was a 15% lower risk of acute kidney injury for participants who consumed any amount of coffee versus those who did not.
When adjusting for additional comorbidities — such as blood pressure, body mass index (BMI), diabetes status, use of antihypertensive medication and kidney function — individuals who drank coffee still had an 11% lower risk of developing acute kidney injury compared with those who did not.
“We suspect that the reason for coffee’s impact on acute kidney injury risk may be that either biologically active compounds combined with caffeine or just the caffeine itself improves perfusion and oxygen utilization within the kidneys,” Professor Parikh said.
“Good kidney function and tolerance to acute kidney injury is dependent on a steady blood supply and oxygen.”
“More studies are needed to define the possible protective mechanisms of coffee consumption for kidneys, especially at the cellular level,” he added.
“Caffeine has been postulated to inhibit the production of molecules that cause chemical imbalances and the use of too much oxygen in the kidneys. Perhaps caffeine helps the kidneys maintain a more stable system.”
The results were published in the journal Kidney International Reports.
Kalie L. Tommerdahl et al. Coffee Consumption May Mitigate the Risk for Acute Kidney Injury: Results From the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study. Kidney International Reports, published online May 5, 2022; doi: 10.1016/j.ekir.2022.04.091
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