Chronic kidney disease is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. But a new study suggests a simple strategy that may help patients with the condition to improve their survival: drink more coffee.

a hot cup of coffeeShare on Pinterest
Researchers say that caffeine may help patients with CKD to live longer.

Researchers found that patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) who consumed the highest amounts of caffeine saw their mortality risk cut by almost a quarter, compared with those who consumed the lowest amounts.

Study co-author Dr. Bigotte Vieira, of the Centro Hospitalar Lisboa Norte in Portugal, and colleagues recently presented their findings at Kidney Week 2017 — the annual meeting of the American Society of Nephrology, held in New Orleans, LA.

CKD is a progressive condition wherein the kidneys gradually lose their ability to filter water and waste products from the blood. Over time, CKD may progress to kidney failure, or end-stage renal disease, making kidney transplantation or dialysis the only treatment options.

It is estimated that more than 30 million adults in the U.S. have CKD, and around 661,000 U.S. individuals have kidney failure.

In 2014, more than 48,000 people in the U.S. died from kidney disease, making it the ninth leading cause of death in the country.

Numerous studies have hailed caffeine for its potential life-prolonging benefits, but Dr. Vieira and colleagues note that it is unclear whether or not patients with CKD may reap such rewards.

To find out, the researchers analyzed data from the 1999–2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, identifying 2,328 patients who had CKD.

The daily caffeine consumption of participants was assessed at study baseline, and subjects were divided into four groups based on these data:

  • first quartile, who consumed under 29.5 milligrams of caffeine daily
  • second quartile, who consumed 30.5 to 101 milligrams of caffeine daily
  • third quartile, who consumed 101.5 to 206 milligrams of caffeine daily
  • fourth quartile, who consumed 206.5 to 1,378.5 milligrams of caffeine daily

The researchers then looked at the mortality of each participant and how this was associated with caffeine intake.

Compared with subjects in the first quartile of caffeine consumption, those in the fourth quartile were 24 percent less likely to die of all causes, while those in the second and third quartile had a 12 percent and 22 percent lower risk of all-cause mortality, respectively.

According to the team, these findings remained after accounting for participants’ age, gender, race, blood pressure, smoking status, body mass index (BMI), and many other possible confounders.

Dr. Vieira and team caution that because their study is observational, it is unable to prove cause and effect between higher caffeine consumption and reduced mortality in patients with CKD.

That said, the researchers believe that their results indicate that drinking an extra cup of joe or two each day may offer health benefits.

These results suggest that advising patients with CKD to drink more caffeine may reduce their mortality. This would represent a simple, clinically beneficial, and inexpensive option, though this benefit should ideally be confirmed in a randomized clinical trial.”

Dr. Bigotte Vieira