Kidney (urinary) stones are one of the most painful disorders for a human being, and one of the most common disorders of the urinary tract.
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), more than one million cases of kidney stones were diagnosed as early as 1985. NIDDK estimates that ten percent of all Americans will have a kidney stone during their lifetime.
Men frequently between the ages of twenty and forty are affected more than women. Young men are also heavy consumers of soft drinks. However, the number of women getting kidney stones has been on the rise.
The Link Between Dark Colas and Stones
To establish a link between soft drinks and kidney stones, researchers at the University of Virginia Health System conducted an intervention trial that involved 1,009 men who had suffered kidney stones and drank at least 5 1/3 ounces of cola per day.
One-half of the men were asked to refrain from drinking colas with phosphoric acid (the dark colas), while the other group was asked to continue drinking colas with phosphoric acid.
FYI – soda that is dark in color is comprised of different substances than clear soda, and this can affect your body differently.
Over a three year period, the group of cola drinkers drinking sodas that were only acidified with citric acid (clear sodas), and those in the group who reduced their consumption to less than half of their customary levels, were one-third less likely to experience a recurrence of kidney stones.
There was no change among those who drank soft drinks acidified with phosphoric acid, and drinking less had no effect in lessening the formation of kidney stones.
Phosphoric acid is commonly used for rust removal, but it is added to colas to give it a sharper flavor. It also slows the growth of mold and bacteria, which otherwise multiplies rapidly in sugary solutions.
Almost all of the acidity in colas comes from the phosphoric acid and not from the carbonic acid from the dissolved CO2. You can verify this by measuring the pH of fresh and flat dark soft drinks; there’s very little difference.
What Causes Kidney Stones?
Kidney stones form when urine contains more crystal-forming substances – such as calcium, oxalate and uric acid – than the fluid in urine can dilute. Some people’s urine may lack the natural substances that keep crystals from sticking together, and too much phosphoric acid can create an ideal environment for kidney stones to form.
Kids And Kidney Stones
No research data about how kidney stones form in children is available, but many kidney specialists report seeing more children with this condition in recent years. While kidney stones are more common in adults, they do occur in infants, children, and teenagers from all races and ethnicities.
To prevent kidney stones, it is important to understand what is causing the stones to form, such as consuming too many soft drinks. Drink plenty of water every day, and teach your children the importance of water above all liquids. Remember that your urine should be almost clear.
While more research needs to be done on the cola-stone connection, cola beverages should be on a list of foods that doctors advise patients to avoid.