Doctors at the University of Arkansas traced a man’s kidney failure to his habit of drinking a gallon of iced tea per day.
The unidentified 56-year-old man visited the hospital last May with complaints of weakness, nausea, fatigue and body aches. He was examined, and doctors determined that his kidneys had become clogged with a chemical known as oxalate. The man later informed his doctors that he developed a habit of drinking 16 eight-ounce cups of iced tea every day, leading them to determine his drink of choice as the cause of his poor health. Oxalate is commonly found in black tea, a well as spinach, nuts and chocolate.
“It was the only reasonable explanation,” Dr. Umbar Ghaffar, of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock, said. Overconsumption of oxalate can lead to kidney stones or kidney failure, but it often is worsened by an existing intestinal problem. This was not the case for the Arkansas patient, however.
Ghaffar said the man was consuming three to 10 times more oxalate than the average American, and added that the man could potentially be on dialysis for the rest of his life.
Despite the unusual case in Arkansas, iced tea does not pose a health risk to the average drinker. “I wouldn’t tell people to stop drinking tea,” Yale kidney specialist Dr. Randy Luciano said, emphasizing that the Arkansas patient drank “a lot of tea.” Luciano was not involved in the research.