Men who consume about two cups of coffee a day, or the equivalent amount of caffeine, are significantly more likely to have urinary incontinence or a “leaky bladder” than men who drink less or none at all, according to new research from the US.

Senior author Alayne D. Markland, a professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and colleagues, report their findings in a paper published online 2 January in The Journal of Urology.

In their background information they note while several studies have already established a link between caffeine intake and leaky bladder in women, the evidence for such a link in men is limited.

For their study, the researchers used national survey results from NHANES 2005-06 and 2007-08. This gave them data on over 5,000 American men aged 20 and over, with complete data available on nearly 4,000 of them.

The survey had collected information about food and drink intake which allowed the researchers to work out the men’s caffeine consumption, water intake, and the total moisture content of their diet.

The survey data also included Incontinence Severity Index scores, for which a value of 3 and above is rated moderate to urinary incontinence (UI). Moderate to severe UI is more than a few drops of urine leakage in a month.

After adjusting for other potential influencers, the researchers found the men who consumed the most caffeine were more likely to have a leaky bladder than those who consumed the least or none at all.

Their analysis shows men who consumed 234 or more mg per day of caffeine were 72% more likely to have moderate to severe UI than men who consumed the least or none at all.

Men with a daily caffeine intake of 392 mg per day were more than twice as likely to have leaky bladder problems.

In contrast, men’s total water intake was not linked to their risk for moderate to severe UI.

The researchers conclude:

“Caffeine consumption equivalent to approximately 2 cups of coffee per day (250mg) is significantly associated with moderate-severe UI in US men.”

They call for further studies to look into this link.

Although the researchers did not establish whether coffee drinking causes men’s leaky bladder problem, Markland told the press “It’s something to consider …”

People who are having problems with urinary incontinence should modify their caffeine intake and I think that’s part of clinical practice,” she says, in a statement reported by Reuter’s Health.

Written by Catharine Paddock PhD