Salt and diet soda can both take a toll on kidneys

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
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Research from Brigham and Women's Hospital shows that salt and diet soda can take a toll on our kidneys. Consuming a high salt diet and artificially sweetened drinks was linked to greater kidney function declines over an eleven year period.

Women participating in the Nurses' Health Study were examined to find the association between diet soda and salt on kidney function decline, and included 3000 women.

The study, led by Julie Lin MD, MPH, FASN and Gary Curhan, MD, ScD, FASN of Brigham and Women's Hospital suggests that a high salt diet and artificial sweeteners in soda cause progressive harm to the kidneys.

The first study looked at salt intake in 3000 women, examining the effect of diet over a period of eleven years. According to the results, “in women with well-preserved kidney function, higher dietary sodium intake was associated with greater kidney function decline, which is consistent with experimental animal data that high sodium intake promotes progressive kidney decline."

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In a second study, also taken from the Nurses’ Health Study, "a significant two-fold increased odds, between two or more servings per day of artificially sweetened soda and faster kidney function decline”. No relation between sugar-sweetened beverages and kidney function decline was noted" according to Dr. Lin.

The role of artificial sweeteners and kidney decline needs more research, and has not been previously investigated. Other factors, including cardiovascular disease, age, caloric intake, obesity, high blood pressure, and cigarette smoking were all taken into account, yet the association between artificial sweeteners and kidney function decline persisted. Most of the participants were older, Caucasian women. The authors say the findings may not apply to men or other ethnic groups.

The two studies, “Associations of Diet with Kidney Function Decline”, and "Associations of Sweetened Beverages with Kidney Function Decline”, are presented at the American Society of Nephrology's annual meeting in San Diego, California.

Kidney disease develops over a long period of time, and can lead to complications including high blood pressure, nerve damage, poor nutritional health, anemia, and heart disease. According to the National Kidney Foundation, more than 26 million Americans suffer from kidney disease.

Soft drinks can also take a toll on overall health and well-being, shown in multiple studies. Research, published February 2009, shows that women’s risk of kidney disease doubles with just two cans of soda daily, but interestingly, not with diet soda, unlike the current study.

The new study shows that sale and diet soda, could lead to decline in kidney function. Over time, salt and diet soda could take a toll on otherwise healthy kidneys.

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