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Sugary Soda Habit May Harm Kidneys, Study Suggests

People who drank 2 or more a day were more likely to have protein in their urine, a sign of trouble
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"We can assume that this is a healthy population, so I think the results are relative to healthier people, not just those with kidney disease," Gutierrez said.

Dr. Anil Agarwal, a kidney specialist at Ohio State University, agreed. "The new study suggests that even individuals with normal kidney function are at risk for damage if they drink too much soda," he said.

And soft drinks sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup may be the most dangerous.

"Fructose is sweeter than glucose, and doesn't cause feelings of satiety," he said. It may cause damage via a different pathway than glucose. Instead of increasing blood-sugar levels, fructose may affect the kidneys, he said.

"There is no safe amount of soda," Agarwal said. "If you look at the recommended amounts of sugar we can safely consume every day, one can of soda exceeds the maximum level."

American Heart Association guidelines state that the recommended daily sugar intake is 9 teaspoons for adult men, 5 teaspoons for adult women and 3 teaspoons for children. A 12-ounce can of non-diet soda has about 7 teaspoons of sugar, Agarwal said.

Dr. Jaime Uribarri, a kidney specialist at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City, said the new findings "reaffirm an association between soda and health problems." He added that diet soda also can cause health problems.

The bottom line? "Drink water instead of soda," Uribarri said.

More information

The National Kidney Foundation has more on kidney disease.

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