How coffee influences your kidney health

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Scientists from the University of Toronto and other institutions have discovered that the connection between heavy coffee drinking and kidney disease depends on a specific genetic variation.

Researchers found that drinking three or more cups of coffee a day, about 300 milligrams of Italian espresso, increases the risk of kidney problems for some people.

This increased risk is significant in heavy coffee drinkers who have a slow-metabolizing variant of the CYP1A2 gene.

The CYP1A2 gene affects how our bodies process caffeine. People with the slow-metabolizing variant of this gene struggle to break down caffeine, leading to a buildup of harmful levels in their system. This buildup can cause kidney dysfunction.

In contrast, those with a fast-metabolizing variant of the gene can process and eliminate caffeine more efficiently and are not at significant risk of developing kidney problems from heavy coffee drinking.

The study noted that about 50% of people, both in the study and the general population, have the slow-metabolizing variant of the CYP1A2 gene.

The researchers looked at three markers of kidney dysfunction: albuminuria (protein in the urine), hyperfiltration (excessive blood flow through the kidneys), and high blood pressure.

They found that these markers were nearly three times higher in heavy coffee drinkers with the slow-metabolizing gene variant.

The findings highlight the importance of personalized nutrition advice based on individual genetic makeup to protect kidney health.

Personalized genetic tests, which many companies and clinics now offer, often include the CYP1A2 gene to help people understand their risk for conditions related to caffeine consumption.

The researchers hope this study will raise awareness about the importance of tailoring nutrition recommendations to an individual’s genetic profile.

Current guidelines in Canada and the U.S. suggest that healthy adults should not consume more than 400 milligrams of caffeine per day. This study shows that heavy coffee drinking can harm kidney health, especially for those with the slow-metabolizing variant of the CYP1A2 gene.

To prevent kidney disease, there are several steps you can take:

  1. Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle: Eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly, and keep a healthy weight.
  2. Manage Underlying Conditions: Conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure can lead to kidney disease. Work with your doctor to manage these conditions effectively.
  3. Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water and other fluids to help flush toxins from your kidneys and prevent kidney stones.
  4. Avoid Smoking and Excessive Alcohol: These habits can damage your kidneys over time.
  5. Be Cautious with Over-the-Counter Medications: Some pain relievers can harm your kidneys if taken in excess. Follow dosing instructions carefully and talk to your doctor if you have concerns.
  6. Get Regular Check-Ups: Regular blood pressure and kidney function tests can help detect kidney disease early when it’s most treatable.

If you have a family history of kidney disease or are at increased risk for other reasons, it’s especially important to take these preventive steps. Talk to your doctor about developing a personalized plan to maintain your kidney health.

For more information about kidney health, you can look into studies about protecting your kidneys from diabetes and other conditions. Recent studies also discuss how to live longer with kidney disease and the potential harm of common painkillers to the heart and kidneys.

The study by Ahmed El-Sohemy and his team was published in JAMA Network Open.

If you care about kidney health, please read studies about how to protect your kidneys from diabetes, and drinking coffee could help reduce risk of kidney injury.

For more information about kidney health, please see recent studies about foods that may prevent recurrence of kidney stones, and eating nuts linked to lower risk of chronic kidney disease and death.

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