Could Coffee Reduce Your Risk of Kidney Disease?

In the past, various studies have suggested that coffee could have a number of significant health benefits. Now, research from a recent study shows that one benefit of drinking coffee could be increased kidney function and a lower risk of kidney disease.

The recently published research could be impactful for CKD patients. As there is currently no known cure for CKD, treatment focuses on detecting CKD early and then slowing its progression. But even using this strategy, there are frustratingly few actions that individuals can take to improve their kidney health. So the knowledge that drinking coffee might aid in slowing the progression of kidney disease could enable CKD patients to fight their disease through relatively simple behaviors.

Some past studies have suggested that regular coffee drinkers actually may be at higher risk of CKD; however, these previous studies may have been influenced by outside variables, as the researchers often didn’t account for other lifestyle choices like smoking or other physiological issues like obesity and hypertension. All these factors are risk factors for CKD, and those with these elements in common tend to drink more coffee than those without, so there’s a higher probability of the data being affected by multiple variables.

In order to combat those limitations, the researchers performing this study used Mendelian randomization, which measures the variation between genes that have a known function. Using this randomization allowed researchers to estimate a causal association between the genes associated with coffee drinking and an outcome.

To conduct the study, they obtained samples for genetic analysis from 227,666 participants in the UK. They identified 2,126 single-nucleotide polymorphisms—DNA building blocks that show genetic variations among people—associated with coffee consumption. They then measured the impact on kidney function. The results were distinct: they found that drinking just one extra cup of coffee a day could increase protection against CKD and albuminuria, a sign of kidney disease indicated by the presence of albumin proteins in the urine.

There is an active ingredient in coffee which might be responsible for this effect, but this is still uncertain, and it would require further research to prove the ingredient’s causation. However, the researchers did suggest that non-caffeine chemical constituents could play an important role in the protective benefits because they are known to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation, both of which are known to contribute to CKD onset and progression.

Because of the Mendelian randomization which limits the influence of outside variables, the study can claim to reliably establish a link between drinking coffee and greater kidney health. This knowledge could help many people decrease their risk of kidney disease or its progression.