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Study finds coffee consumption may reduce risk of acute kidney injury

by Vaishali Sharma

According to a recent study conducted by Johns Hopkins Medicine experts, coffee intake is associated to a lower risk of acute renal damage (AKI).

The findings, which were published in the journal Kidney International Reports on May 5, reveal that individuals who drank any amount of coffee per day had a 15% lower risk of AKI, with the greatest reductions seen in those who drank two to three cups per day (a 22 percent -23 percent lower risk).

“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,” says study corresponding author Chirag Parikh, M.D., PhD, director of the Division of Nephrology and professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “We can now add a possible reduction in AKI risk to the growing list of health benefits for caffeine.”

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Acute kidney injury (AKI) is defined as a “sudden episode of renal failure or kidney damage that occurs within a few hours or days,” according to the National Kidney Foundation. This causes waste products to build up in the blood, making it difficult for the kidneys to keep the body’s fluid balance in check.

Depending on the aetiology, AKI symptoms may include: insufficient urine output; swelling in the legs and ankles, as well as around the eyes; weariness; shortness of breath; disorientation; nausea; chest discomfort; and, in extreme instances, seizures or coma. The condition is most frequent in hospitalised individuals whose kidneys have been harmed by medical or surgical stress or complications.

Researchers evaluated 14,207 people with a median age of 54 who were recruited between 1987 and 1989 for the Atherosclerosis Risk in Cities Study, an ongoing investigation of cardiovascular disease in four U.S. communities. Over the course of a 24-year period, participants were asked how many 8-ounce cups of coffee they consumed each day: zero, one, two to three, or more than three. A total of 1,694 instances of acute renal damage were documented throughout the study period.

When demographic variables, socioeconomic level, lifestyle influences, and dietary factors were taken into account, individuals who consumed any amount of coffee had a 15% reduced risk of AKI than those who did not. Even after accounting for comorbidities such as blood pressure, BMI, diabetes, antihypertensive drug usage, and renal function, those who drank coffee had an 11 percent reduced chance of having AKI than those who did not.

“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 improve perfusion and oxygen utilization within the kidneys,” says Parikh. “Good kidney function and tolerance to AKI — is dependent on a steady blood supply and oxygen.”

More studies are needed, Parikh says, to define the possible protective mechanisms of coffee consumption for kidneys, especially at the cellular level.

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

Coffee additions may influence AKI

Coffee additions such as milk, half-and-half, creamer, sugar, or sweeteners, according to Parikh and his colleagues, may also influence AKI risks and need more research. Consumption of other caffeinated beverages, such as tea or soda, should also be regarded as a possible confounding factor, according to the authors.

Emily Hu, Elizabeth Selvin, and Josef Coresh of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; Morgan Grams of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine; Casey Rebholz of the Johns Hopkins Medicine and Bloomberg School of Public Health; Kalie Tommerdahl and Peter Bjornstad of the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus; and Lyn Steffen of the University of Minnesota School of Public Health are among the other researchers involved in this study. (ANI)

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