People who drank any quantity of coffee every day had a 15% lower risk of acute kidney injury, and those who drank two to three cups a day had a 22% to 23% lower risk, a recent study found. Photo by Dima Sobko/Shutterstock
There's more good news for coffee lovers who already reap its other health benefits -- your favorite beverage may also help protect your kidneys.
"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 study author Dr. Chirag Parikh, director of the Division of Nephrology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
"We can now add a possible reduction in AKI [acute kidney injury] risk to the growing list of health benefits for caffeine," he said in a university news release.
Parikh and colleagues analyzed data on more than 14,000 U.S. adults who were recruited for an atherosclerosis (hardened arteries] risk study between 1987 and 1989 at a median age of 54.
The participants were surveyed seven times over 24 years about the number of 8-ounce cups of coffee they had each day: zero, one, two to three, or more than three. During the survey period, nearly 1,700 cases of acute kidney injury were recorded. AKI is a "sudden episode of kidney failure or kidney damage that happens within a few hours or a few days," according to the National Kidney Foundation.
The researchers found that people who drank any quantity of coffee every day had a 15% lower risk of acute kidney injury, and those who drank two to three cups a day had a 22% to 23% lower risk.
The study was published recently in the journal Kidney International Reports.
"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," Parikh said. "Good kidney function and tolerance to AKI -- is dependent on a steady blood supply and oxygen."
Further research is needed to find out exactly how coffee may protect the kidneys. Adding milk, cream or sugar could also influence AKI risk and warrant further investigation, the researchers noted.
But reassuring research published last month found that having a little sugar with your coffee was still linked to a lower risk of dying prematurely.
There's more on acute kidney injury at the National Kidney Foundation.
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