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). 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. And doctors diagnose about 500,000 with CKD each year in that one country.


I.   The Disease

II.   Symptoms

III.  Risk Factors

IV.  Reviews

V.    Resources

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 chance 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 the 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 drinking.

1.) One review1examined 17 studies with 149,958 people. 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 people. The review found that moderate drinking reduced CKD by 14%. That’s compared to non-drinking.

3.) The third review3 analyzed 15 cohort studies with 268,723 people. Researchers 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. That’s compared to abstainers and occasional drinkers.

4.) The fourth review4 analyzed analyzed 20 studies with 292,431 people. 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 sum, these 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


Popular Books


1. He, L. et al. Dietary patterns and CKD risk. A review. Nutr. J., 20(1), 1-11.

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

3. Li, D. et al. Alcohol Drinking and the Risk of CKD. Alco: Clin. Exper. Res., 43(7), 1360-1372.

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


    • This site gives no advice. Please see your doctor with questions.