Diet Soda and Kidney Disease

By imsuzie2 Latest Reply 2012-01-09 16:48:58 -0600
Started 2009-11-08 19:44:25 -0600

My brother-in-law started things by sending my husband (had kidney cancer and his right kidney removed 8/10/09) and forwarded a story from AOL Health. His primary agreed with the idea of limiting diet soda, and today I saw this on WedMD:

Diet Sodas May Be Hard on the Kidneys
Women Who Drink 2 or More Diet Sodas Daily Double Their Risk of Kidney Function Decline, Study Shows
By Kathleen Doheny
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Nov. 2, 2009 — Diet soda may help keep your calories in check, but drinking two or more diet sodas a day may double your risk of declining kidney function, a new study shows.

Women who drank two or more diet sodas a day had a 30% drop in a measure of kidney function during the lengthy study follow-up, according to research presented Saturday at the annual meeting of the American Society of Nephrology in San Diego.

"Thirty percent is considered significant,'' says researcher Julie Lin, MD, MPH, assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and a staff physician at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. That's especially true, she says, because most study participants had well-preserved kidney function at the start of the study.
Diet Soda and Kidneys: Study Details

The researchers evaluated 3,256 women already participating in the Nurses' Health Study who had submitted dietary information, including their intake of sugary beverages — sugar-sweetened drinks, sugar-sweetened soda, and artificially sweetened soda. Sugar-sweetened drinks included soda, fruit juices, punch, and iced tea.

Information was also available on measures of kidney function. Their median age was 67.

Lin's team looked at the cumulative average beverage intake, derived from food questionnaires completed in 1984, 1986, and 1990. The women replied whether they drank the beverages less than once a month, one to four times a month, two to six times weekly, once daily but less than twice, or twice a day or more often.
Diet Soda and Kidneys: Study Results

When the researchers compared kidney function of the women in 1989 and 2000, they found that 11.4% or 372 women had a kidney function decline of 30% or more. When they looked at the diet information, they found that the 30% decline in kidney function was associated with drinking two or more artificially sweetened sodas a day. This was true even after taking into account factors such as age, high blood pressure, diabetes, and physical activity.

Put another way: the women who drank two or more diet sodas a day had a decline in their glomerular filtration rate, a measure of kidney function, of 3 milliliters per minute per year. ''With natural aging, kidney function declines about 1 mL per minute per year after age 40," Lin says. No link was found with the other beverages. And less than two sodas a day didn't seem to hurt. "We didn't see any association up to two artificially sweetened beverages a day," Lin says.

''A serving was reported as either a glass, a can, or a bottle of a beverage," Lin tells WebMD. ''It was not more specific than that."

''The mechanisms aren't clear," Lin says of the association she found. In another study she presented at the meeting, she found higher salt intake is also associated with faster kidney function decline.

All of the participants were women, so Lin can't say for sure that the association holds for men, although she says there is ''no biological reason to think it wouldn't."

About 20 million Americans have some evidence of chronic kidney disease, according to the society. Kidney disease diagnoses have doubled each of the last two decades.
Diet Soda and Kidney Function: Industry Input

Asked to review the study findings, Maureen Storey, senior vice president of science policy for the American Beverage Association, says in a prepared statement: "It's important to remember that this is an abstract presented at an annual meeting." She notes that the research needs further scrutiny by researchers.

She acknowledges that kidney disease is serious but that diabetes and high blood pressure account for the majority of kidney disease cases, ''not consumption of diet soda."
Diet Soda and Kidney Function: Dietitian's View

In reviewing the study, Connie Diekman, RD, director of university nutrition for Washington University, St. Louis, wonders if the link might have come about because of long-term consumption, as many of the participants were older adults.

The link found, she says, "calls for more studies where actual intake can be assessed, rather than taking the information from food frequency questionnaires, which could be subject to mistakes."

Diet drinks, she says, are ''generally low in important health-promoting nutrients, so keeping them as a small part of your eating plan would be a smart step."
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View Article Sources Sources


Julie Lin, MD, MPH, assistant professor of medicine, Harvard Medical School, staff physician, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston.

American Society of Nephrology annual meeting, San Diego, Oct 27-Nov. 1, 2009.

Connie Diekman, RD, director of university nutrition, Washington University, St. Louis.

News release, American Beverage Association.
© 2009 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

38 replies

Carol2x 2011-09-11 09:07:16 -0500 Report

The aspartame in the diet drinks is one of the major factors. One of the ingredients of Aspartame is methyl esters (wood alcohol)-deadly to human and animals alike.
Look at all the stuff that has it in it-or how much one consumes the diet beverages with it. Accumalation of the deadly poison leads to a multitude of physical problems/ailments.
When Asparatame hits your stomach and mixes with the stomach acid (hydrochlorlic) it turns into fermaldehyde.

puppy7 2011-01-16 06:28:28 -0600 Report

Dear sir, or miss I am a diabetic and Yes diet soda will harm your kidneys and blood sugar . diet coke 4oz. sent my blood sugar sky high , but 4 oz of diet pepsi did not. It is best to drink carbonated water with lemon juice and black strap molasses it has vitamins and it will slightly raise your sugar. the acid in the lemon juice counter acts with fat to burn it off.

Argarcia9206 2011-01-16 02:04:58 -0600 Report

This study seems to be inconclusive because of what Connie Diekman, RD, stated and I repeat here, there should be "calls for more studies where actual intake can be assessed, rather than taking the information from food frequency questionnaires, which could be subject to mistakes." Diet drinks, she says, are ''generally low in important health-promoting nutrients, so keeping them as a small part of your eating plan would be a smart step."

Notice what she said about the nutrition of any sodas. I would not base my decision here to STOP drinking diet sodas. There needs to be a more in depth study before I will make a change like STOPPING my drinking of diet sodas all together.

I feel that it is a perfect alternative to regular sodas. Where we know for a fact that it actually does destroy kidneys as well as teeth for that matter. There are more people on dialysis today then a few years ago, but that is because of baby boomers that have come to maturity now and the fact that there are more diabetics now then there were several years ago. At least that is my opinion.

thorns&roses 2011-01-15 23:46:10 -0600 Report

why were only women in the study? my husband type 2 diabetic drinks 2 diet sodas in a glass at a time.
I am curious to wonder why anyone should be suprised common sence would tell you anytime humans believe they can shortcut their way around God's best or if you prefer trick mother nature will be sorry in the end. This has been proven over and over again do we not learn

efevers 2011-01-15 22:11:49 -0600 Report

Surprised, yet not surprised. Seems anything that has any benefits usually has a drawback or three…Guess I'll switch to water…and low fat milk!

naunny 2011-01-15 16:34:28 -0600 Report

I have a dilemma. I grew up on well water. Where I live now is city water. I cannot stand the taste of it. I do not bottled water either.

Sandra Whittum-Gould
Sandra Whittum-Gould 2011-01-15 14:19:28 -0600 Report

I had also heard about the 2 sodas a day and since I have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, I have bought a "soda stream" which carbonated regular water and you can put your own flavoring in. This is much safer.

lgonzalez69 2011-01-15 12:31:53 -0600 Report

Thanks for the information. I am a diabetic (type 2) I do not drink diet drinks at all, I do other soft drinks once in a while. After this, I am cutting down on my SPLENDA, I take two packets with my coffee daily. Do not know if it matters but it will not hurt/

libralady#1 2011-01-15 12:27:52 -0600 Report

I have been drinking diet soda for a long time but not excessively, I also drink a lot of water. So now that I have this information, I will drink even less.

BandonBob 2011-01-15 12:18:44 -0600 Report

I dropped diet soda because of the things I read about how aspartame is processed by the body. From what I read it breaks down into formaldehyde and I certainlt don't want that in my body.

msflutewv 2011-01-15 12:12:00 -0600 Report

I understand about diet soda, but does this mean that drinking 2 or more artificially-sweetened beverages a day is also bad? For instance, Cyrstal Light beverages, sugar-free hot chocolate, etc?

mrhealthy 2011-01-15 11:46:50 -0600 Report

A lot of studies have been done regarding the beneficial effects of water. Water is definitely good for you and it can relieve pain if you drink enough; one ounce of water for each pound you weigh. Start out slowly with your intake of water, sipping instead of gulping to allow your body, or your mind, to adjust. Then your body will eventually start craving water. Our body is mostly composed of water and that is what it needs, not artificial liquids like sodas. Which do you think is healthier? In any case, no harm in doing things in moderation.

Rubyntune 2011-01-15 11:40:21 -0600 Report

Could it be that people who drink more than 2 diet sodas a day don't add water to their intake. Therefore they are ONLY drinking diet drinks. I drink diet soda maybe 1 20 oz bottle to 2 a day. I've tried to stop but can't. The headaches are tremendous when I go a day without my diet coke. And now I'm insulin type 11 diabetec. Trying real hard to quit but been consuming diet drinks for 20 years now.

JourneySong 2011-01-15 11:12:17 -0600 Report

The reason why it's confusing is because it doesn't actually say anything.

It notes that of the study participants, the average one of whom was a 67 year old, those who reported drinking two or more diet sodas also had a bigger decline in kidney function.

It also notes that the method of recording how much diet soda they were drinking was completely subjective because the reporting was voluntary, and that nothing was done to determine if different types of diet soda had different effects, or if a specific ratio of diet to sugared drinks have an impact on kidney function. They don't know because they did not study any of that.

What if there were people drinking two or more diet sodas a day who were under-reporting their consumption?

Did ALL of the people who were drinking two or more diet sodas a day have the same decline in kidney function, or only some of them? It would be much more significant if all the two or more diet soda a day drinkers were affected in the same way, and the group with decreased kidney function contained no people who were also consuming a majority of something else, but they didn't say that.

It also doesn't say if any of the two or more diet soda a day group had normal declines in kidney function due to age and did not show the added effect. Remember 1% a year is normal at that age; were any of the two or more per day group normal? No report.

It didn't examine whether any of the women were making their own diet drinks which would result in diet sodas made without about 90% of the chemicals found in canned diet sodas, so they don't know if making your own is any better.

They took diabetes into account, but only during the time that the study was in progress. They did not assess self reporting or any actual records of how long the person had been diabetic or whether they had taken good care of themselves during the decades before the study.

Furthermore, one of the doctors questioned said, "kidney disease is serious but that diabetes and high blood pressure account for the majority of kidney disease cases, not consumption of diet soda."

That sounds like an important fact that most every reader ignored. The report concludes that a dietitian who did not have anything to do with the study thinks that since diet drinks have no nutrition they should be minimized in the diet. OK. That does not say anything about the study results either.

Everyone involved says this needs a lot more study and very specific testing before any conclusions can be reasonably drawn.

I'm waiting. So should you.

edhawley 2011-01-15 10:58:34 -0600 Report

I too have moved on to more water and ice tea. I also need to watch my salt intake and the sodium in any carbonated beverage is significant.

mkhojh99 2011-01-15 10:52:08 -0600 Report

I found this out the hard way. I had a kidney stone that was VERY painful. It hurt so bad I could not stand straight…after I had surgery to remove the stone because it was too far up to pass they told me soda pop was horrible. Of course I didnt listen 100% because I drank pop still but not as much. 2 years later while shopping at a Sams Club and Walmart between the 2 I used the bathroom for like 2 hours…didnt know what was wrong…here I passed another stone so now…maybe a pop once a month or two.

Sandyxo 2011-01-15 10:46:06 -0600 Report

I learned the hard way about diet soda i have diabetes 2 Found out about 3-4 yrs. ago. Before my last appt. with my Diabetes Dr. i went about a week before + had my lab work done like I usually do. Anyways got home from my lab work was home maybe an hour + my diabetes Dr. + she called + told me to get to the E.R. immediatly she said I had critical labs that my kidneys were failing. They asked me what I drank for fluids so I told them diet caffeine free soda. That's what caused my kidneys to fail. They kept me in the hosp. for about a week Other than the kidneys fail i was also needed magnesium + electrolites introvenously. Thank God I had my lab work done that day it was a Wed. My plans were to go on Fri. If I waited + went on Fri. who knows what would have happened. No more diet or reg. soda for me!!

AllenFaye 2011-01-15 10:39:03 -0600 Report

I am also wondering if it is the artificial sweetener because then it would definitely apply to all the coffee I drink.

Jackiemum 2011-01-15 10:06:41 -0600 Report

Surely this is more to do with the aspartame in the diet soda?
I did a study on aspartame years ago when I found my daughter had a problem with it - she has ADHD. They were saying then that it would affect diabetics more because of having to use sweeteners - and aspartame has now crept into so many 'sugar-free' items as well as toothpaste etc that we are all going over the RDA without even knowing we are ingesting it…
It is known to affect the kidneys as well as most other organs in the body, and it was blamed for the Gulf War effect on the soldiers because they were supplied with these drinks for free, which were stored at a temperature that changed the composition of the aspartame.
This was a very controversial subject which the FDA tried to sit on as it was developed by Sears, and seems to have quietened down of late - but that doesn't make the results less startling!
They tried to make everyone use asaprtame instead of saccharin as an artificial sweetener saying saccharin is carcinogenic, there are other alternatives… but aspartame is cheaper, and makes you crave carbohydrates…
Just do a google on aspartame…

door331 2011-01-15 09:54:56 -0600 Report

WebMD is nice but these studies are not significant. The dangers of artificial sugars has been going on for decades. There are different types of artificial sugars. The kind used in the US is banned in Canada. The stuff used in Canada used to be what the US used a couple decades ago and is now banned in the US.

both artificial sugars were tested and thought to be carcinogens, retested years later and cleared of any negative impact on body function. Further testing would be needed to suggest any kind of link to kidney failure and drinking diet beverages.

MewElla 2011-01-15 08:03:02 -0600 Report

Used to drin diet Dr Pepper, gave it up one year ago, strictly water for me. Tastes good when ice cold!!

kidneykim 2011-01-15 07:34:58 -0600 Report

I am confused? is it the artificial sweetener or the color added or what in the soda that causes this dramatic effect.

Sippiccano 2011-01-17 07:29:00 -0600 Report

That is my question too because I put artificial sweetner in my cofee so if that is cause I need to know!

Hinboyz3 2009-11-09 09:32:26 -0600 Report

Thanks so much that was very informative, I don't drink any pop especially since I was diagnosed as a type 2 diabetic. Lots of water.

tcup65 2011-01-15 09:04:08 -0600 Report

i became a diabetic and started drinking diet soda and now it has been 22 years and have very bad kidneys for the last five years so there may be something to the diet soda or the sweetner …

wkdollear 2011-01-15 08:17:16 -0600 Report

Hello, does water work? i've tried other things to replace the diet pop, but water, with no taste and no carbonation (I gues I love the bubbles), didn't work for me. did you find it hard to switch? but, if it's my kidneys or diet pop, good bye soda.

London 2009-11-08 22:04:10 -0600 Report

I drank MT.DEW 24/7 before I was a diabetic. I've tried diet and don't like it. Thanks for the info because my whole family thinks diet is good for you. Time to prove them wrong. LOL

Narg 2011-01-15 10:34:09 -0600 Report

London, I wouldn't be so sure that either are any good for you. Just because they found an issue with one doesn't make the other better. Overall, diet or calorie free dring far outweight the issues with high calorie drings. But as with anything, too much of it can often be an issue. I personally have suffered from too much carbonated drinks and caffeine, in that I now suffer from Gerd. If you want to play it safe, stick to water. Period.

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