The purpose of the study was to compare the influence of artificially sweetened drinks on kidney function as opposed to drinks sweetened with sugar.
Dr Julie Lin, who co-led the study with Dr Gary Curhan and a group from the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts stated, “There are currently limited data on the role of diet in kidney disease. While more study is needed, our research suggests that higher sodium and artificially sweetened soda intake is associated with greater rate of decline in kidney function.”
Results of the investigation
After an examination of more than 3,000 women over a period of 11 years, the researchers reported "a significant two-fold increased odds, between two or more servings per day of artificially sweetened soda and faster kidney function decline; no relation between sugar-sweetened beverages and kidney function decline was noted."
The researchers also noticed that the connection between kidney decline and intake of artificially sweetened drinks remained even after taking into account risk factors such as age, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Ambiguous link makes further research essential
The researchers state that since the relation between kidney damage and artificial sweeteners was ambiguous more research was needed to uncover the mechanism behind the trend.
Nevertheless, the findings of the large scale study are valuable from both a scientific and consumer point of view. It cautions about the hazards of artificially sweetened soda, providing women with a vital reason to curtail high intake of diet drinks.
The study, “Associations of Sweetened Beverages with Kidney Function Decline”, was presented last week at the American Society of Nephrology’s annual conference in San Diego, California.
Other health hazards
Although products sweetened with artificial sweeteners are marketed as healthier than their sugar-laden versions, they can be potentially hazardous to health.
Studies have shown that artificial sweeteners can stimulate high insulin levels in the body, promoting fat storage.
Other health issues that have been related to artificial sweeteners are potential cancer risks, negative effects on liver, stimulation of appetite, gastrointestinal problems and headaches.