Yet Another Study Links Soda to Yet Another Health Problem

If there's anything good to say regarding soft drinks and your health, researchers are having a hard time finding it.

Kidney issues are the latest health problem to be associated with soda consumption. (Photo: sevestjude/Flickr)

Jason Best is a regular contributor to TakePart who has worked for Gourmet and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Apparently you don’t want protein in your urine, or at least not too much of it. It can make your kidneys very unhappy. (Who knew? Well, kidney doctors, I guess.) Why soda of all things might cause elevated levels of protein in your pee seems to be even more of a mystery, but it’s another incident in the steady drumbeat of science that seems to be saying ever louder: “You’re crazy if you’re still nursing a soda habit.”

More than 12,000 people with normal kidney function participated in a recent study out of Osaka University. Those who drank two or more sodas per day were more likely to have protein in their urine (11 percent), versus those who drank one soda a day (9 percent) or those who didn’t drink any (8.4 percent), as HealthDay reports.

This isn’t earth-shattering—soda has been linked to kidney disease before. And of course, that’s not the only serious health problem researchers have tied soda to. There’s the elevated risk for heart disease, stroke, certain cancers, and type 2 diabetes—health problems that are almost all tied to soda’s pretty-well-documented-but-of-course-the-soda-industry-still-denies-it propensity to make us overweight or obese.

Soda’s also been linked to gout, which always sounds like one of those Dickensian maladies afflicting portly, grouchy barristers who thump coal-smudged orphans with their canes.

“The new study suggests that even individuals with normal kidney function are at risk for damage if they drink too much soda,” one kidney specialist who apparently was not involved in the study tells HealthDay. “There is no safe amount of soda,” he adds. “If you look at the recommended amounts of sugar we can safely consume every day, one can of soda exceeds the maximum level.”

Indeed, while the American Heart Association recommends men not exceed the equivalent of 36 grams of sugar a day and women limit their intake to 24 grams, a 12-ounce can of regular soda can easily contain upwards of 40 grams.

But even as the evidence mounts that soda is exacting an outsize tax on public health, the public itself seems to have mixed feelings about taxing soda. Even as New York City’s infamous ban on supersize sugary drinks remains in legal limbo, San Francisco seems poised to impose a tax on all soda (24 cents per can). Yet voters in Telluride, Colo., soundly rejected a soda tax this month by nearly a two-thirds margin.  

This bit of detail from Politico on the Telluride vote was telling:

In early July—a little over a week after [Elisa Marie Overall, who works at the town medical center] pitched Proposition 2A to the town council—Charlie Sheffield, a lobbyist hired by the Colorado Beverage Association, showed up in Telluride to set up camp and convince the town to vote against the initiative.

"The beverage industry swooped in pretty quickly," recalled Overall, who said she believes Sheffield has been living in Telluride since. "He walked in wearing a suit. No one wears a suit here! Now he wears flannel and Carhartts—and carries a backpack instead of a briefcase."

Meanwhile, south of the border, Mexico has passed a nationwide junk-food tax, which places a levy on soda and other foods—and industry has responded by moving from sugarcane-sweetened Coca-Cola to high-fructose corn syrup.

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