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Diet Soda and Kidneys: Study Results continued...

''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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