2 or More Sodas a Day Boost Women's Kidney Risks

They're twice as likely to show early damage, and study says it's likely all that sugar

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THURSDAY, Feb. 12, 2009 (HealthDay News) -- Women who consume two or more cans of soda pop daily are almost two times more likely than other women to show early evidence of kidney disease, according to a U.S. study.

But there's no increased risk for men who drink lots of soda pop or for people who drink diet soda.

The researchers analyzed data from 9,358 adults in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. As part of the survey, urine samples were collected, and participants provided information about their dietary habits.

Women who said they drank two or more sodas in the previous 24 hours were 1.86 times more likely than other women to have albuminuria, excess levels of a protein called albumin in the urine that indicate early kidney damage.

The study was published in the journal PLoS One.

It's not clear why drinking soda increases the risk of albuminuria only in women, said lead researcher David Shoham, an assistant professor in the department of preventive medicine and epidemiology at Loyola University Health System. He suggested there may be an underlying cause that's linked to both soda consumption and kidney damage.

Rates of diabetes, obesity and kidney disease are increasing in the United States, along with consumption of high fructose corn syrup, the sweetener used in most sodas. But the amount of sugar is more important than the type, Shoham said.

"I don't think there is anything demonic about high fructose corn syrup per se," he said. "People are consuming too much sugar. The problem with high fructose corn syrup is that it contributes to over-consumption. It's cheap, it has a long shelf life, and it allows you to buy a case of soda for less than $10."

A recent study found that nine of 20 samples of high fructose corn syrup from three manufacturers contained detectable levels of mercury.

"This adds the intriguing possibility that it is not just the sugar itself in high fructose corn syrup that is harmful, because mercury is harmful to kidneys as well," Shoham said.

More information

The U.S. National Kidney Disease Education Program has more about kidney disease.

SOURCE: Public Library of Science, news release, Feb. 9, 2009

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