Added sugar consumption increases risk of kidney stones.

Added sugar consumption increases risk of kidney stones.

The Link Between Added Sugar and Kidney Stone Formation

Kidney stones are a painful condition that can significantly impact a person’s quality of life. Symptoms such as vomiting, bloody urine, fever, and chills are commonly associated with kidney stone formation. While risk factors for kidney stones include obesity, diabetes, and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), new research suggests that added sugar consumption may also play a role in their development.

A recent study analyzed data from 28,303 adults between 2007 and 2018 as part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). The participants’ history of kidney stones and their daily intake of added sugars were both considered in the study. The findings, published in Frontiers in Nutrition, revealed a significant correlation between added sugar intake and kidney stone formation.

The study authors defined added sugar as “sugars or caloric sweeteners added to foods or beverages during processing or preparation to add flavor or extend shelf life.” Participants were given a healthy eating index score (HEI-2015) to assess their overall eating habits. Factors such as gender, age, race or ethnicity, BMI, and medical history were also taken into account.

The results showed that individuals who consumed higher amounts of added sugar had a greater likelihood of developing kidney stones. Moreover, those who derived more than 25% of their total energy from added sugars had an 88% higher chance of kidney stone formation compared to those with less than 5% of their energy coming from added sugars.

To understand why added sugar intake contributes to the development of kidney stones, Medical News Today sought insights from Dr. David S. Goldfarb, clinical chief of nephrology and co-director of the Kidney Stone Prevention Program at NYU Langone Health. Dr. Goldfarb highlighted the well-known fact that sugar increases the amount of calcium in urine, making it a risk factor for kidney stone formation.

In fact, added sugar consumption has been associated with a range of health problems, including high blood pressure, insulin resistance, and obesity. These conditions are all risk factors for kidney stones as well. Dr. Goldfarb emphasized that dietary changes that promote kidney health are generally linked to decreased rates of kidney stone formation. For this reason, avoiding added sugars is essential in preventing kidney stone development.

Dr. Gregory Buller, a nephrologist and associate chief medical officer at Bridgeport Hospital, further supported these findings. He stressed that added sugars are responsible for reduced urine volume and elevated urinary calcium levels, both of which contribute to kidney stone formation. This relationship between added sugars and hypercalciuria (elevated urinary calcium) adds considerable credence to the study’s conclusions.

Apart from the increased risk of kidney stones, there are several other reasons to avoid consuming added sugars. These sugars can be found in sugary drinks, cookies, cakes, and candy, but they can also hide in many other foods. Fructose, a component of added sugars, has been shown to increase visceral fat, serum triglycerides, and insulin resistance, which are factors associated with vascular disease, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Therefore, it is crucial to limit added sugar intake, especially for individuals who are overweight, obese, or have a history of kidney stones or a family history of the condition.

However, it is important to acknowledge the limitations of self-reporting in studies like this one. Self-reported data can affect the accuracy of the results, and confounding factors other than added sugars could potentially explain the observed association. Dr. Buller emphasizes that while this study generates hypotheses, more rigorous studies are necessary to establish a causal relationship between added sugars and kidney stone formation. Nonetheless, when considered along with previous research, this study strongly suggests that added sugars do increase the risk for kidney stones.

In conclusion, the link between added sugar consumption and kidney stone formation cannot be ignored. The negative health effects of added sugars, such as high blood pressure, insulin resistance, obesity, and increased urinary calcium, all contribute to the development of kidney stones. As we continue to learn more about the impact of diet on our health, avoiding added sugars remains a significant step in protecting our kidneys and overall well-being.