(NaturalNews) According to the American Society of Nephrology (ASN), the number of people in the US diagnosed with kidney disease has doubled over the past 20 years. About 20 million Americans are at risk for developing kidney disease and the ASN web site states another 20 million Americans already have some evidence of chronic kidney disease. And when chronic kidney disease progresses, it often leads to kidney failure or end stage renal disease (ESRD) -- resulting in ongoing, expensive dialysis treatments or even kidney transplants.
But like countless other diseases and conditions, kidney disease doesn't just strike out of the blue. It is often the result of what people do to their own bodies. And researchers have just reported two direct ways diet appears to be associated with declining kidney function. The culprits? Eating food high in sodium (like the fast foods and processed junk snacks Americans love) and drinking artificially sweetened sodas.
Those are the findings of two new studies, both conducted by Julie Lin, MD, and Gary Curhan, MD, ScD, of Brigham and Women's Hospital, which were recently presented at the American Society of Nephrology's annual meeting held in October in San Diego, California. The first study, entitled "Associations of Diet with Kidney Function Decline," examined the impact of specific dietary components on declining kidney function over 11 years in more than 3,000 women who participated in the Nurses' Health Study. Dr. Lin and Dr. Curhan found that "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."
In previous research, scientists using information collected from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), a long-term collection of studies designed to assess the health and nutritional status of adults and children in the US, had found a link between sugar containing sodas and urinary protein. However, they did not collect data on any kidney function changes related to drinking sweetened sodas. So, in their second study, Dr. Lin and Dr. Curhan, decided to specifically check for any kidney function decline in women who drink sodas regularly. Once again, they used data from the Nurses' Health Study.
In a statement for the media, Dr. Lin reported they found "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." Moreover, this association persisted even when the researchers accounted for age, obesity, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, physical activity, calorie intake, diabetes and cigarette smoking. Clearly, artificially sweetened sodas are detrimental to kidney health.
"There are currently limited data on the role of diet in kidney disease," said Dr. Lin in a statement to the press. "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."