Excessive Tea Intake May Cause Kidney Failure

The New England Journal of Medicine has published a letter attributing the sudden onset of renal kidney failure in a 56-year-old man to his drinking habit. In this case, however, the habit in question was consuming too much black tea – 16 cups per day, to be precise. Doctors made this startling realization after the man walked in to the hospital complaining of weakness, fatigue, and body aches. He has been forced to remain on dialysis as a result of the condition, which is being called iced-tea neuropathy by the authors of the letter.

The compound responsible for iced-tea neuropathy is oxalate, which is found in many foods, including beets, spinach, and strawberries. Elevated oxalate levels can also result from having gastric bypass surgery. High oxalate intake can cause kidney stones and, if oxalate crystals build up inside the kidney, then it produces an inflammatory reaction that can cause scarring and loss of kidney tissue. The authors claim this may be an underreported cause of renal kidney failure that merits further research.

Paradoxically, Dr. Gary Curhan of Harvard Medical School said previous studies have indicated that those who drink the typical one or two glasses of tea per day have a lower risk of kidney stones.

“But in this case, the person was drinking huge amounts of oxalate… I would caution people against drinking that much, but drinking a glass or two would not concern me.”

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, no more than 40-50 mg of oxalate should be consumed in a given day, well below this man’s daily intake of about 1,500 mg.


Read more here – “Massive Tea Consumption Linked to Kidney Failure,” (Gene Emery, Reuters)

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