From: David A Gabel, ENN
Published September 22, 2010 10:41 AM

Study Finds Effective Method for Fighting Kidney Stones

One of the most painful things in life is a kidney stone. That hard jagged chunk of calcium, if it grows to a sufficient size, can completely clog up the works, leaving blood in the urine and intense pain. But for those with chronic kidney stone pain, there is new reason to hope. A recent study has found that eating a diet designed to prevent high blood pressure can also ward off kidney stones.

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Kidney stones are solid concentrations formed in the kidneys from dissolved urinary materials. They are passed through the body via the urinary tract. Usually, the stones are formed and passed without causing symptoms. However, if they grow to at least two millimeters in diameter, they can obstruct the ureter. This can cause dilation above the blockage as well as muscle spasms to try to move the stone. The end result is pain in the left flank, lower abdomen, and groin.

The study is set to appear in the upcoming issue of the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (CJASN) — on everybody's reading list I'm sure. The research was conducted by a team, led by Dr. Eric Taylor, from Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and Maine Medical Center.

The main point is that the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet, designed to lower blood pressure, can also reduce the risk of developing kidney stones. This diet is loaded with fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, dairy products, and whole grains. It is especially low on sweetened beverages and red and processed meats.

The team took urine samples from 3426 people with and without a history of kidney stones. The study was conducted in conjunction with several much larger studies. Those who followed the DASH diet produced more urine despite similar fluid intake, and their urine contained a higher level of citrate. Citrate is an important inhibitor of calcium stones. Clues point to a high number of these kidney stone inhibitors in dairy products and/or plants.

The report suggests that a DASH diet is important for people who suffer from kidney stones. The authors write, "We believe our results provide a strong rationale for a randomized trial examining the effect of a DASH-style diet on kidney stone recurrence."

The article will appear on September 16 at the website, http://cjasn.asnjournals.org/, and is titled "DASH-Style Diet and 24-Hour Urine Composition." Co-authors include Meir Stampfer, MD, DrPH, Gary Curhan, MD, ScD, and David Mount, MD.

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