Increased intake of added sugar appears to significantly increase the risk of kidney stones. Limiting sugar consumption, on the other hand, may help prevent kidney stone formation.
A new study involving experts from Lund University in Sweden looked at whether added sugar is linked to kidney stones. The results are published in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition.
Data from more than 28,000 people evaluated
The research group analyzed epidemiological data from a total of 28,303 adult individuals collected between 2007 and 2018 as part of the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).
The participants themselves indicated whether they had already suffered from kidney stones in the past. In addition, during the course of the study, the participants were asked twice about what foods and drinks they had consumed recently.
The researchers were particularly interested in whether the participants had consumed syrup, honey, glucose, fructose or pure sugar in the last 24 hours. In addition, all participants were evaluated using the so-called Healthy Eating Index Score.
This rating expressed how many healthy foods (such as fruits and vegetables) were consumed versus potentially harmful foods such as foods made from refined grains and foods high in sodium and saturated fats.
High daily sugar intake
According to the researchers, the average total intake of added sugar was 272.1 calories per day. This value corresponded to 13.2 percent of the total daily energy intake.
And even at the start of the study, participants with higher intakes of added sugar tended to have a higher prevalence of kidney stones, the team reports.
Up to 39 percent increased risk
Later, the percentage of energy intake from added sugars was positive and consistently associated with kidney stones. According to the researchers, people with the highest intake of added sugar had a 39 percent increased risk of developing kidney stones over the course of their lives.
In addition, participants who got more than 25 percent of their total energy from added sugar had an 88 percent higher risk of kidney stones than people who got less than 5 percent of their total energy from added sugar, the team adds.
Health consequences of kidney stones
Between five and nine percent of people in Europe suffer from kidney stones. These manifest themselves, for example, in symptoms such as severe pain, nausea, vomiting, fever, chills and blood in the urine, which severely limit the quality of life of those affected.
In addition to the reduced quality of life, kidney stones can lead to infections, swollen kidneys (hydronephrosis), kidney failure and kidney disease in the long term.
How are kidney stones formed?
Experts cite obesity, chronic diarrhea, dehydration, inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes and gout as the best-known risk factors for kidney stones. In general, adult men are most commonly affected.
According to the researchers, added sugar, which is found in many processed foods such as lemonades, fruit drinks, sweets, ice cream, cakes and biscuits, could also be included in the list of risk factors in the future.
Limiting sugar consumption reduces risk
“Our study is the first to show a link between the consumption of added sugar and kidney stones. This suggests that limiting sugar consumption can help prevent the formation of kidney stones,” summarizes study author Dr. Shan Yin in a press release together.
However, the mechanisms behind the association between the consumption of added sugar and a higher risk of developing kidney stones remain unclear. Here are according to Dr. Yin now needs further investigation to analyze the connection in more detail. (as)