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Diet Sodas May Impact Kidney Function

Nov 4, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP Diet sodas have been linked to a reduction in kidney functioning, according to an emerging study cited by WebMD. While diet sodas may help in keeping caloric intake down, the beverages might be doubling the risk of kidney function decline, said WebMD.

The research looked at women who consumed two or more diet sodas daily and found they experienced a 30 percent decrease in “a measure of kidney function” based on a large follow-up, said WebMD, referring to research that was just presented at the yearly meeting of the American Society of Nephrology in San Diego, California. "Thirty percent is considered significant,'' said researcher Julie Lin, MD, MPH, assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and a staff physician at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, quoted WebMD. She noted that this is “especially true,” given that most participants began the study with what were considered well-preserved kidney function levels.

The female participants—3,256 in all, with a median age of 67—were participating in the Nurses' Health Study and had provided dietary details that also included what they ingested in the form of sweet drinks, such as “sugar-sweetened drinks, sugar-sweetened soda, and artificially sweetened soda,” said WebMD, which explained that sugar-sweetened drinks included “soda, fruit juices, punch, and iced tea.” The study also provided kidney function measures.

The new research reviewed “cumulative average beverage intake,” that was compiled from “food questionnaires completed in 1984, 1986, and 1990,” said WebMD and covered frequency of drinking the beverages. Kidney function was compared over time and revealed a 30 percent decline in 372 (11.4 percent) of the participants, connected to consuming at least two artificially sweetened sodas daily, said WebMD. The level looked at was the glomerular filtration rate, a measure of kidney function. ''With natural aging, kidney function declines about 1 mL per minute per year after age 40," said Lin, reported WebMD.

According to the Nephrology Society, some 20 million Americans experience “some evidence of chronic kidney disease”; such disease diagnoses have seen a doubling in the past 20 years, added CNN.

Of note, we have written in the past about the issue of benzene in soft drinks. Unacceptably high levels of benzene, a known carcinogen, were detected in samples of popular soft drinks, at concentrations of up to eight parts per billion (ppb) based on prior international studies.

Benzene, a dangerous toxin linked to leukemia and other cancers of the blood, is a component of other carcinogens such as fossil-fuel exhaust fumes. One problem with benzene is that its carcinogenic effects are currently quantified in terms of lifetime exposure. The exact amount of benzene and the duration of exposure needed to produce a serious health risk are far from certain. In minute amounts, the potential for harm is even less definite.

The source of benzene contamination in commercially produced drinks is generally the by-product of a few simple chemical reactions between ingredients mixed together in the drinks themselves and occurs on a global scale.

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