Coffee and Caffeine Consumption and Risk of Kidney Stones: A Mendelian Randomization Study

Am J Kidney Dis. 2022 Jan;79(1):9-14.e1. doi: 10.1053/j.ajkd.2021.04.018. Epub 2021 Oct 21.


Rationale & objective: Coffee and caffeine consumption have been associated with a lower risk of kidney stones in observational studies. We conducted a Mendelian randomization study to assess the causal nature of these associations.

Study design: Mendelian randomization analysis.

Setting & participants: Independent genetic variants associated with coffee and caffeine consumption at the genome-wide significance level were selected from previously published meta-analyses as instrumental variables. Summary-level data for kidney stones were obtained from the UK Biobank study (6,536 cases and 388,508 noncases) and the FinnGen consortium (3,856 cases and 172,757 noncases).

Exposure: Genetically predicted coffee and caffeine consumption.

Outcome: Clinically diagnosed kidney stones.

Analytical approach: Mendelian randomization methods were used to calculate causal estimates. Estimates from the 2 sources were combined using the fixed-effects meta-analysis methods.

Results: Genetically predicted coffee and caffeine consumption was associated with a lower risk of kidney stones in the UK Biobank study, and the associations were directionally similar in the FinnGen consortium. The combined odds ratio of kidney stones was 0.60 (95% CI, 0.46-0.79; P < 0.001) per a genetically predicted 50% increase in coffee consumption and 0.81 (95% CI, 0.69-0.94; P = 0.005) per a genetically predicted 80-mg increase in caffeine consumption.

Limitations: Genetic influence on kidney stone risk via pathways not involving coffee or caffeine.

Conclusions: Using genetic data, this study provides evidence that higher coffee and caffeine consumption may cause a reduction in kidney stones.

Keywords: Caffeine; Mendelian randomization (MR); caffeine intake; causal inference; coffee; dietary habit; genetically predicted coffee consumption; kidney and ureteral stones; modifiable risk factor; nephrolithiasis; renal calculi; urolithiasis.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Caffeine
  • Coffee*
  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • Humans
  • Kidney Calculi* / epidemiology
  • Kidney Calculi* / genetics
  • Mendelian Randomization Analysis
  • Risk Factors


  • Coffee
  • Caffeine