Chronic Kidney Disease and Alcohol Drinking: Evidence Review

Chronic kidney disease and alcohol is an important matter. Millions of people regularly drink alcohol. And many people suffer chronic kidney disease (CKD).


I.   The Disease

II.   Symptoms

III.  Risk Factors

IV.  Reviews

V.    Resources

CKD afflicts large numbers of people. In fact, it affects about 10% of adults around the world. The percent is higher in the U.S., with 37,000,000 suffering CKD. In addition, doctors diagnose about 500,000 with CKD each year in that one country.

I. The Disease

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) can be a serious problem. The kidneys don’t work right. This leads to medical issues.

    • Blood vessel disease.
    • Body wastes in blood.
    • Heart disease.
    • High blood pressure
    • Low blood cell count.
    • Nerve damage..
    • Weak bones.

Many people die from CKD.

II. Symptoms

Many people with CKD don’t know they have it. That’s because in the early stages it doesn’t cause symptoms.

But in later stages it can cause problems. They may include any of these.

    • Blood in urine (pee)
    • Changed urine volume.
    • Increased need to urinate (especially at night)
    • Sleep problems
    • Swollen ankles, feet or hands
    • Poor appetite and weight loss
    • Itchy skin
    • Fatigue
    • Shortness of breath
    • Muscle cramps
    • Nausea
    • ED in men

II. Risk Factors

A risk factors is anything that increases the risk of getting a disease. The more risk factors we have, the greater the risk. But having them doesn’t mean we get CKD. On the other hand, some people without any risk factors have CKD.

    • Obesity
    • Not drinking alcohol
    • Smoking
    • Abnormal kidney 
    • Family history of kidney disease
    • Diabetes
    • High blood pressure
    • Heart and blood vessel disease
    • Older age 
    • Being African-American, Native American or Asian-American

III. Reviews: Chronic Kidney Disease and Alcohol

There have been four systematic reviews of chronic kidney disease and alcohol consumption.

1.) One review1 examined 17 studies with 149,958 participants. Researchers found that heavy drinkers had the lowest risk of CKD. It was 33% lower than non-drinkers. They also found that low and moderate drinkers had a 24% lower risk of CKD than non-drinkers.

2.) Another review2 analyzed 104 studies with 2,755,719 participants. The review found that moderate alcohol consumption, in comparison with abstaining from alcohol, reduced CKD by 14%.

3.) The third review3 analyzed 15 cohort studies with 268,723 participants. Researchers compared regular drinkers with a reference group of abstainers and occasional drinkers. They found that those who drank less than a drink a day had a 12% lower risk of CKD. Those who had one or two daily drinks enjoyed a 24% lower risk. And those who had over two daily drinks had a 21% advantage.

4.) The fourth review4 analyzed analyzed 20 studies with 292,431 participants. Researchers focused on heavy alcohol consumption. They found that men who drank heavily were 28% less likely to suffer CKD. For heavily drinking women, the reduced risk of CKD was 22%.

kidney disease and alcoholIn summary, these four reviews clearly show that chronic kidney disease and alcohol drinking are inversely related. That is, drinking alcohol reduces the risk of developing CKD. Furthermore, the form of alcohol can be beer, wine, or liquor (spirits).

IV. Resources: Chronic Kidney Disease and Alcohol

Web Pages

Chronic Kidney Disease Risk Reduced by Drinking Alcohol

Drinking Alcohol Reduces Kidney Cancer Risk: Important Medical Facts  

Popular Books

NIH. Chronic Kidney Disease (CDK) and Diet. Bethesda: NIH, 2015.

NZ Health. A Guide for Coping with Chronic Kidney Disease. Wellington, NZ, NZ Health, 2014.

Starks, M. My Journey with Chronic Kidney Disease, 2019.

Waterson, A.  4 Renal Diet Cook Books in 1. CreateSpace, 2018.


1. He, L. et al. Dietary patterns and chronic kidney disease risk. A systematic review. Nutr. J., 2021, 20(1), 1-11.

2. Kelly, J. et al. Modifiable lifestyle factors for primary prevention of CKD. A systematic review. J. Am. Soc Neph, 2021, 32(1), 239-253.

3. Li, D. et al. Alcohol and the risk of chronic kidney. A meta-analysis. Alco: Clin. Exper. Res., 2019, 43(7), 1360-1372.

4. Cheung, W. et al. High alcohol consumption and the risk of renal damage. A systematic review. QJM: Inter J. Med., 2014, 108(7), 539-548.


This website makes no suggestions about chronic kidney disease and alcohol. Always see a doctor for advice.