Debunking the Myth: Does Drinking Coffee Cause Kidney Stones?

I love drinking coffee, and I’m sure many of you do too. It’s that daily ritual that helps us wake up and start our day on the right foot. But have you ever heard the myth that drinking coffee can cause kidney stones? I’ve heard it a few times, and I decided to do some research to debunk this myth once and for all.

Understanding Kidney Stones

Before we delve into the debatable topic of coffee and kidney stones, let’s first understand what kidney stones actually are. Kidney stones are hard deposits that form in your kidneys. They are made up of various substances, such as calcium, oxalate, and phosphate. These stones can vary in size, from as small as a grain of sand to as large as a golf ball. Kidney stones can be incredibly painful and can cause complications if left untreated.

Coffee and Calcium Oxalate Stones

One of the main types of kidney stones is calcium oxalate stones. These stones are formed when calcium combines with oxalate in the urine, creating crystals that eventually clump together to form a stone. The question arises – does coffee, specifically the caffeine content in coffee, contribute to the formation of calcium oxalate stones?

Studies have shown that caffeine may increase calcium excretion in urine. However, this effect is minimal and not significant enough to cause a significant increase in the risk of developing kidney stones. In fact, it has been suggested that the other components present in coffee, such as antioxidants and polyphenols, may actually have a protective effect against kidney stone formation.

Coffee and Fluid Intake

One aspect of coffee that needs to be considered is its diuretic effect. Coffee is known to increase urine production, which may lead to concerns about dehydration and an increased risk of kidney stone formation. However, it’s important to note that the diuretic effect of coffee is mild, and the fluid intake from drinking coffee still contributes to your overall hydration.

In fact, a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found no significant association between coffee consumption and the risk of kidney stone formation. The study included over 200,000 participants, making it one of the largest studies on this topic. The findings suggest that moderate coffee consumption does not increase the risk of developing kidney stones.

Other Factors to Consider

When examining the relationship between coffee consumption and kidney stone formation, it’s crucial to consider other factors that may play a more significant role. One vital factor is diet. A diet high in salt, calcium, and oxalate-rich foods, such as spinach and chocolate, can increase the risk of developing kidney stones.

Additionally, inadequate fluid intake and certain medical conditions, such as obesity and urinary tract infections, can also contribute to the formation of kidney stones. Therefore, blaming coffee as the sole culprit behind kidney stones oversimplifies the complex nature of this condition.

The Verdict: Coffee and Kidney Stones

After carefully analyzing the available research, it is safe to conclude that drinking coffee in moderation does not significantly increase the risk of developing kidney stones. The diuretic effect of coffee is mild, and the fluid intake from coffee still contributes to overall hydration. In fact, the protective effect of coffee’s antioxidants and polyphenols may even reduce the risk of kidney stone formation.

However, it’s essential to remember that excessive coffee consumption, like any other excessive behavior, should be avoided. It’s recommended to stick to a moderate intake of 2-3 cups of coffee per day to enjoy its potential benefits while minimizing any potential risks.


Debunking the myth that drinking coffee causes kidney stones was an eye-opening experience. After examining the available research, it’s clear that coffee, when consumed in moderation, does not pose a significant risk for kidney stone formation. Instead, it’s important to focus on maintaining a healthy diet, with balanced intake of fluids and avoidance of excessive salt, calcium, and oxalate-rich foods.

So, go ahead and savor your cup of coffee without worrying about its impact on your kidneys. As long as you drink it in moderation, it can remain a part of your daily routine, providing you with that much-needed energy boost and a delightful moment of relaxation.

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