Reduce your kidney stone risk by 23 percent by doing this

Kidney stones are painful and, for some, a source of recurring pain. A recent study released from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, Mass., has found a causative agent -- certain beverages -- whereby simply eliminating it from one's daily diet can reduce the formation of kidney stones by as much as 23 percent.

Sugar-sweetened beverages seem to be a major contributor to the formation of kidney stones, the research, which was published online May 15, 2013 in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, suggests. Sodas and fruit drinks that are amped with sugar sweeteners have been found to be associated with a higher risk of such formation.

Gary Curhan, MD, ScD, a physician in the Channing Division of Network Medicine at BWH and senior author of the study, explained the findings: "Our study found that the relation between fluid intake and kidney stones may be dependent on the type of beverage consumed. We found that higher consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks was associated with a higher incidence of kidney stones."

The study took into consideration data from a total of 194,095 participants with a median follow-up of more than 8 years. The information came from three ongoing cohorts: The Health Professionals Follow-Up Study (HPFS), and both the Nurses' Health Study I (NHS I) and II (NHS II). Participants took part in answering a dietary questionnaire every four years and a questionnaire covering medical history, lifestyle, and medication every two years. It was from this vast pool of data that the BWH study found that those whose lifestyles included a regular intake of one or more sugar-sweetened drinks (like cola) had a 23 percent greater risk of developing kidney stones than did participants who consumed less than one sugar-sweetened drink per week.

But the study also had good news as well. Data indicated that those who drank coffee, tea, and orange juice had lower incidents of kidney stone formation.

It is common for doctors to tell their patients who suffer from kidney stones the importance of drinking plenty of fluids. The study indicates that it is also important that the types of fluids the patients drink are important as well.

Pietro Manuel Ferraro, MD, a physician at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart of Rome and corresponding author of the study, noted that the research was a confirmation that what a person drinks matters when it comes to kidney stone development. He added, "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."

The study is just the latest in a series of hits taken in the past few years by industries where the major products are sugar-sweetened beverages.

Research presented at the American Heart Association's Epidemiology and Prevention/Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism 2013 Scientific Sessions in March suggested that drinking beverages with high sugar content increased an individual's potential for gaining weight and that the gain of weight also leads to diseases such as diabetes, several cancers, and cardiovascular diseases that result in death. Even worse, as consumption increases, so does the risk.

(Read: Killing you softly: Study says sugary soft drinks kill 180,000 people worldwide yearly)

A study conducted by Cleveland Clinic's Wellness Institute and Harvard University indicated that the greater consumption of sugar-sweetened and low-calorie sodas is associated with a higher risk of stroke. The results of that study were published in April of last year.

The results of a study from the Harvard School of Public Health were revealed in 2010 showing empirical proof that the consumption of soda and other sugar-sweetened drinks was associated with a greater risk of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.

(photo credit: Marlith, Creative Commons)

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