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Infrequent Coffee Drinkers May Be Most Vulnerable to Effects of Coffee on Urinary Symptoms

Staack A, Distelberg B, Schlaifer A, Sabaté J. Prospective study on the effects of regular and decaffeinated coffee on urinary symptoms in young and healthy volunteers. Neurourol Urodyn. 2015 Dec 24. doi: 10.1002/nau.22949. [Epub ahead of print]

Avoiding coffee is one effective way to reduce urinary symptoms for some patients with interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome (IC/BPS). Yet studies of coffee reduction as a strategy to prevent urinary symptoms have yielded conflicting evidence. To clarify the potentially negative effect coffee may have on urinary symptoms, researchers conducted a double-blind study on 49 young, healthy volunteers. These healthy subjects stopped drinking coffee for 5 days, and then, for the next 5 days, consumed either regular or decaffeinated coffee. There were two interesting findings: first, for the subjects who started drinking regular coffee, there was a significant increase in urinary urgency and frequency; in contrast, the group of subjects drinking decaffeinated coffee experienced no such increase in symptoms. Secondly, the researchers looked closer at the subjects’ habits prior to the study–in particular, whether they were frequent or infrequent coffee drinkers. They found that the frequent drinkers had fewer symptoms when re-exposed to regular coffee, while the infrequent drinkers had the largest increase in urinary symptoms. Taken together, these findings suggest that urgency and frequency could be prevented by avoiding regular coffee; moreover, people who are not used to drinking regular coffee might be the ones who are most vulnerable to its potential effects on urinary symptoms.