Artificially Sweetened Drinks May Damage Kidneys

November 1/London/Press Association Mediapoint -- Too many artificially sweetened soft drinks may damage the kidneys, according to findings presented at the American Society of Nephrology's annual meeting in San Diego.

Researchers looked at the effect of soda drinks on more than 3,000 women taking part in the Nurses' Health Study, a major lifestyle and health investigation in the United States. They compared drinks that were sweetened with sugar and artificially sweetened. The results showed that two or more artificially sweetened drinks a day doubled the risk of a faster-than-average decline in kidney function.

No such association was found with sugar-sweetened drinks.

The link persisted after taking account of other risk factors including age, high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, and heart disease. More work was needed to uncover the mechanism behind the trend, said the scientists from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

A separate study by the team involving the same group of women also found a link between sodium intake and kidney damage.

Dr. Julie Lin, who co-led the research, said, "There are currently limited data on the role of diet in kidney disease.

"While more study is needed, our research suggests that higher sodium and artificially sweetened soda intake are associated with greater rate of decline in kidney function."

All the study participants were older Caucasian women. The scientists said it was not clear whether the findings also applied to men or people of different ethnic backgrounds.

The American Beverage Association commented, "It's important to remember that this is an abstract being presented at an annual meeting. Until it has been subjected to the rigors of peer-review and published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, it is impossible to provide thoughtful comment on the results."

A spokesman pointed out that the two main causes of chronic kidney disease were diabetes and high blood pressure "not consumption of diet soda."  

From the November 9, 2009, Prepared Foods E-dition