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Does Soda Cause Kidney Stones?

author image Rachel Nall
Rachel Nall began writing in 2003. She is a former managing editor for custom health publications, including physician journals. She has written for The Associated Press and "Jezebel," "Charleston," "Chatter" and "Reach" magazines. Nall is currently pursuing her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the University of Tennessee.
Does Soda Cause Kidney Stones?
Lemon-lime sodas may help prevent kidney stones.

You may love the bubbly, fizzy taste of a soda, but if you experience kidney stones, there are a few types you should avoid. While some people are genetically predisposed to experience kidney stones, the foods you eat and drinks you drink can make kidney stones more likely to form. Not all types of soda contribute to kidney stones, however. Research from the University of California at San Francisco has found benefit in drinking diet citrus sodas.

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Cola and Kidney Stones

Colas tend to be the darkest of the many soft drink options. Colas contain phosphoric acid, which has been linked with an increased incidence of kidney stones and kidney disease. Phosphoric acid is linked with kidney stones because it creates an acidic environment in your kidney tract. When your urine becomes too acidic, kidney stones are able to form more easily. For this reason, physicians like Dr. R. Lawrence Hatchett at Southern Illinois Urology recommend avoiding drinking dark sodas because of their potential to cause kidney stones.

Coca-Cola Response

The Coca-Cola Company, a manufacturer of dark sodas like Coca-Cola, has issued a response to rumors that soft drinks cause kidney stones. According to the company’s website, “We would like to assure you that soft drinks do not cause kidney stones. There are multiple causes of kidney stones, and the ingredients in cola beverages have not been shown to cause them.” The company points out that Coca-Cola products have 17mg of phosphorus per 100mL, while whole milk has 93mg and cheddar cheese has 512mg of phosphorus per the same serving size. The company says a number of factors can contribute to kidney stones and that its soft drinks contribute to adequate fluid intake that can help prevent kidney stones.

Moderation Is Best

If you have had kidney stones in the past, you are at increased risk for experiencing them again. Therefore, taking dietary precautions against kidney stones may be necessary. While the Coca-Cola company points to the comparatively low levels of phosphoric acid against other foods, the serving size is 100 mL, which is roughly 3.38 oz. Because an average cola can contain about 12 oz., the amount of phosphoric acid can quickly increase. If you regularly drink several cola servings per day, you may be getting too much phosphoric acid in your daily diet. Instead, practice moderation when it comes to enjoying cola soft drinks to reduce the likelihood kidney stones will form.

Diet Citrus Sodas

While colas have been linked with causing kidney stones, diet citrus sodas may help prevent them. A study presented at the 2009 American Urological Association meeting found the citrate present in diet citrus sodas like Diet 7-Up and Diet Sunkist Orange may help prevent kidney stone formation. When citrate is present in the urinary tract, it has an alkalizing effect that can keep kidney stones from forming. While regular citrus sodas contain citrate as well, the study researchers cautioned against drinking these due to their high calorie and sugar content.

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