Soda and Your Kidneys

There’s just nothing to be gained from drinking soda. Think about it -- people don’t hesitate to drink what is basically a bubbly brew of water, sugar (mainly high fructose corn syrup or HFCS), food coloring and assorted chemicals, packed with calories and lacking in nutritional value. Carbonated soft drinks are the single largest source of calories in the American diet, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, providing about 7% of our total calorie intake. In addition to staining, eroding and decaying our teeth, soft drinks are associated with an increased risk of obesity, a risk factor for type 2 diabetes and possibly osteoporosis. Now there is a new health problem to add to that list -- kidney damage


In a study of 9,358 adults (mean age 45), women who reported drinking two or more sugary sodas within the last 24 hours were nearly twice as likely to have albuminuria -- excess levels of a protein in the urine that is a possible sign of kidney damage. More research is needed to determine if the association with kidney damage is due to sugar in general... HFCS in particular... or some shared lifestyle characteristics of soda drinkers.

Here’s what we know so far...

  • The widespread use of high fructose corn syrup -- popular with manufacturers because it is cheap, sweet and extends shelf life -- has been prevalent over the same time period there’s been a significant rise in diabetic end-stage renal or kidney disease. The body processes HFCS differently than regular table sugar, and in so doing may cause harm to the kidneys.
  • Mercury has been detected in many products containing HFCS. Mercury is involved in the manufacturing process for most commercial HFCS -- and mercury is a risk for kidney disease. (Too read more on this new identified hazard, see Daily Health News, April 27, 2009 : Dangerous Treats: Mercury In Sweets Made with High Fructose Corn Syrup)
  • Other ingredients in soda, such as phosphorus in colas, may contribute to kidney stones, which are a risk factor for chronic kidney disease.

Men did not have this problem (more research is needed to learn why). Neither did people of either gender who drank diet soda, which is one reason why investigators believe HFCS may be responsible. Results of this research were published in the October 2008 issue of PLoS ONE.

According to
researcher David Shoham, PhD, MSPH, of the Loyola University Health System in Illinois, in order to protect your kidneys, in order to protect your kidneys, your best bet is to simply drink water instead of soda. Soda just isn’t worth it.


  • David Shoham, PhD, MSPH, assistant professor, department of preventive medicine and epidemiology, Loyola University Health System, Maywood, Illinois.
Too read more about Water and Soda (Coke), and some facts and trivia about the two, go here:
Water VS. COKE
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