HEALTHY LIVING
05/24/2013 07:58 am ET

Soda, Other Sugar-Sweetened Drinks May Raise Kidney Stone Risk, Study Finds

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Guzzling too much soda might not only hike up diabetes, obesity and stroke risk -- new research shows it could also increase your likelihood of experiencing kidney stones.

A new study in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology shows that people who drink soda and other sugary drinks, including fruit punch, every day have a higher risk of developing kidney stones than people who drink these beverages more infrequently.

The findings are especially important considering "drink more fluids!" is a common piece of advice people are told to reduce the risk of future kidney stones -- and the results suggest that all fluids may not be created equal when it comes to lowering risk.

"Although higher total fluid intake reduces the risk of stone formation, this information about individual beverages may be useful for general practitioners seeking to implement strategies to reduce stone formation in their patients," study researcher Dr. Pietro Manuel Ferraro, M.D., who is a doctor at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart of Rome, said in a statement.

Kidney stones are quite common, accounting for more than a million health care visits every year, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. They occur when materials in the urine become highly concentrated, forming a solid stone. Sometimes they pass on their own, and sometimes they pass causing much pain and even bleeding.

The study included 194,095 people who were enrolled in the Nurses Health Study I and II, as well as the Health Professionals Follow-Up study. All the study participants provided information about their lifestyle habits and diets for more than eight years, as a median follow-up time.

Researchers found that people who reported drinking at least one sugar-sweetened soda each day had a 23 percent increased kidney stone risk over people who only drank less than one of these beverages a week. And people who drank the most punch in the study had an 18 percent higher kidney stone risk compared with those who drank the least punch.

Plus, certain beverages actually seemed to lower kidney stone risk -- particularly orange juice (12 percent lower), coffee (26 percent lower for caffeinated, and 16 percent lower for decaffeinated), tea (11 percent lower), wine (31 to 33 percent lower) and beer (41 percent lower).

A study presented earlier this year at the American Urological Association meeting showed that exercise -- even just a twice-weekly walk -- can also help to lower women's kidney stone risk.

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