Kidney failure from iced tea

For an Arkansas man, too much of a good thing led to kidney failure.

Doctors traced a 56-year-old man’s kidney failure to drinking an excessive amount of iced tea – a gallon of tea a day, to be exact.

“It was the only reasonable explanation,” said Dr. Umbar Ghaffar of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock. She and two other doctors describe the case in Thursday’s New England Journal of Medicine, according to an Associated Press story.

The man said he drank about 16 8-ounce glasses of iced tea every day. Black tea has a chemical known to cause kidney stones or even kidney failure in excessive amounts, according to the AP.

The man reportedly went to the hospital last May with nausea, weakness, fatigue and body aches. Doctors determined his kidneys were badly clogged and inflamed by a food chemical called oxalate, according to the AP.

The man was consuming three to 10 times more oxalate than the average American, according to the journal article. Oxalate is also found in spinach, rhubarb, nuts, wheat bran and chocolate, according to the AP story.

The Arkansas man had no family or personal history of kidney disease. He is now on dialysis.

Marissa Harshman

Marissa Harshman

I'm the health reporter for The Columbian newspaper in Vancouver, Wash. I started at The Columbian -- my hometown newspaper -- in September 2009. Reach me at or 360-735-4546.

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