Tea and Kidney Stones

A few years ago, my mom had to go to the hospital on Christmas Eve.  Turned out she had a kidney stone and when she passed it she said it was the worst pain she ever felt.  Yes, even worse than giving birth.  Ever since hearing that, kidney stones have been my number one fear.  Just thinking about passing a kidney stone makes me cringe, so I asked if she knew how she got it and she said it was because she drank so much iced tea.  If you're from the Philadelphia/ New Jersey area then you know just how delicious a Wawa iced tea is, and you also know how devastating this piece of information is.  Iced tea was my favorite drink and when she told me this I was terrified because I thought for sure I was going to get kidney stones.  I haven't had a sip of iced tea since.  But I'm still not so satisfied, I want to know WHY iced causes kidney stones!

iced tea.jpg

First, lets start off with what a kidney stone actually is.  A kidney stone is basically a crystallization of dietary minerals in the body.  The minerals become solidified and literally form a jagged stone.  Calcium is one component in the most common form of kidney stones, called calcium oxalate.  So what does this have to do with iced tea?

Well, iced tea just so happens to contain oxalate.  Oxalate leads to the formation of small crystals made of minerals and salt that are found in urine. As this article points out, the most common cause of kidney stones is dehydration, and dehydration occurs the most in the summer.  Because iced tea is pretty low in calories and tastes better than water it's a pretty popular drink, especially during summer time.  Now this study is trying to tell you to never drink iced tea again, it's merely saying to drink it in moderation.  So don't be like me and be terrified of iced tea, just don't drink TOO much.


Wow I never knew that iced tea could be bad for you for that reason. I just thought that it could be bad because it is sugary. Even though I’ve never had a Wawa iced tea though I do love iced tea…so this information is pretty devastating for me. Although you stated how you don’t drink iced tea anymore I agree with the conclusion that you came to (that we can drink it in moderation) because the chances of you passing a kidney stone (if you don’t overdrink it) are very slim.

As discussed in class a third variable can come into play, even with your mom’s experience. Something like another beverage or food that your mom consumes could have led to her passing kidney stones. It also could have been the combination of both that formed the kidney stone in her body.

I also wonder if your mother passing a kidney stone could be due to chance; unless of course the doctor said that in fact it was her drinking so much iced tea. As Andrew tells us, always leave room for chance. Perhaps neither the iced tea nor another component of your mom’s diet took her to the hospital. Maybe an unlikely occurrence is what formed her kidney stone. The only way to know would be to do more science (by the doctor running tests on your mother).

After reading your blog and the comment above I was left wondering if there are other causes of kidney stones from other drinks or foods. There could be the possibility, as mentioned in the post above, that there are third variables, and chance, but if they are anything like iced tea, large doses can lead to kidney stones. After doing some research I found that foods that also contain high amounts of oxalates are spinach, chocolate, rhubarb and nuts. So, large amounts of one of those and iced tea could potentially lead to the growth of kidney stones given its high levels of citrates. To avoid this, drink moderate amounts or iced tea, and eat foods that provide adequate amounts of calcium as this reduces the amount of oxalate the body absorbs.

I never really drink Iced Tea so hopefully I won't have too much to worry about, but I wanted to look to see some other causes of kidney stones to be sure I can prevent them because they sound terribly painful. I found one website that claims a lack of water can cause kidney stones as well. I sure will be drinking a lot of water in the future.


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