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The iced beverage is found to contain high concentrations of oxalate, a key chemical known to trigger the formation of kidney stones, Dr. John Milner, Department of Urology, Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, Maywood, Ill, explained.
Iced tea Vs hot tea
Tea is the common ingredient in both versions – hot and cold. But somehow the cooler version is found to be more perilous, Milner says.
The exact reason why iced tea fuels more kidney stones than hot tea, given the fact that both contain equal amounts of oxalate, is not clear. Milner, however, believes that taking in the cool drink in excessive quantities is easier than drinking the hotter one.
"It isn’t as easy to consume a quantity large enough amount to encourage the formation of stones," Milner asserted.
The highest risk category
While increased iced tea consumption raises the risk of kidney stones for all, the risk is extremely high in men, postmenopausal women, and women who have had their ovaries removed.
Men above 40 are four times more likely to develop kidney stones than women, Milner highlighted.
"For many people, iced tea is potentially one of the worst things they can drink. For people who have a tendency to form kidney stones, it's definitely one of the worst things you can drink," Milner averred.
Kidney stones are small crystals formed from the minerals and salt. While most stone formations are small and are easily expelled from the body through urine, the bigger chunks, however, get lodged in the ureter, which need to be removed surgically.
The popularity of iced tea
According to the U.S. Tea Association, more than 2 billion gallons of iced tea are consumed annually in the U.S.
Seen as a refreshing, cheap, and above all, a non-carbonated drink, iced tea’s popularity grew dramatically, given the belief that it was healthier than other carbonated beverages.
But "to quench thirst and to properly hydrate, there is no better alternative than water," Milner said.
One may try flavoring it with lemons. “Lemons are very high in citrates, which inhibit the growth of kidney stones," Milner said. "Lemonade slows the development of kidney stones for those who are prone to the development of kidney stones."