Prevent kidney stones: drink coffee but not cola?

Nearly 11 percent of men and 7 percent of women develop kidney stones at least once—including Jersey Shore reality show star Ronnie Ortiz-Magro who was hospitalized with the condition last month. While patients are usually told to drink plenty of fluids to reduce their chances of having repeat kidney stones, researchers have found some drinks can actually increase the risk of the problem.

In fact, those who have at least one sugar-sweetened soda every day have a 33 percent greater likelihood of developing kidney stones compared to those who drink fewer than one serving a week, according to a Brigham and Women’s Hospital study released on Wednesday. The researchers from Boston and Rome analyzed dietary data from 194,000 participants in the Harvard Health Professionals study and Nurses Health study over the course of a decade or more and found associations between certain beverages—such as fruit punch and sugary sodas—and increased kidney stone risk.

They also found that certain drinks decreased a person’s risk including coffee (both caffeinated and decaffeinated), tea, wine, beer and orange juice.

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The study didn’t prove that beverage choice directly affects the formation of kidney stones, but the researchers provided a plausible explanation as to why sugary beverages might heighten a person’s risk: the high sugar content in these drinks increase the kidney’s excretion of calcium and other substances, which can combine and crystalize into stones.

While the researchers haven’t fullly worked out all the mechanisms for the protective effects seen in some beverages, they said certain plant chemicals in these drinks likely alter the substances excreted from the kidneys in a beneficial way.