This post is part of a weekly series: Nutrition News Roundup. Look for my reports on nutrition news on the internet every Monday.
This week in the Nutrition News Roundup I'm covering two stories: the recent increase in kidney stones in kids and its possible connection to HFCS (or high fructose corn syrup) and the recent study reporting that eating red meat causes cancer.
Kidney Stones in Kids — Caused By Salt or HFCS?
The internet is awash with articles about an increase in kidney stones in kids. If you type “kidney stones kids” into Google, it returns over 700,000 results. What used to be an adult malady is now becoming increasingly common in children. There was even a report of an “8-month-old girl whose mother found a pea-size kidney stone in her diaper” (Source: Boston Herald)
Sadly, almost all the articles on the internet just repeat the same information about possible causes and how to treat kidney stones. They all say the kidney stones are caused by eating too much salt. The treatment? Avoid salt and drink more water.
But have we actually seen an increase in salt consumption in the past few decades? Not according to USDA data. However, what we have seen is a massive increase in the consumption of fructose, particularly in the form of HFCS or high fructose corn syrup.
I found this compelling article written by a blogger named Debs in Seattle: Kidney Stones Increase in Kids: A Matter of Diet?
She questions the salt theory:
Whether salt plays a role in kidney stones or not, if salt were the primary culprit in a rise in childhood kidney stones, then salt intake would presumably be on the rise, but according to these USDA data (excel spreadsheet), sodium intake in the United States has been virtually unchanged over the last fifty years.
She instead looks to fructose, stating “fructose consumption has skyrocketed in the last few decades while the kidney stone trend has also been on the rise”:
Fructose intake may also increase insulin resistance, which is associated with low urinary pH, a major risk factor for uric acid kidney stones. In addition, fructose is the only carbohydrate known to increase the production of uric acid… Source
Yet another reason to avoid HFCS or high fructose corn syrup.
She also brings up the lack of vitamin K2 in our modern diet:
Research suggests that presence of kidney stones is associated with deficiency in the ultra-important activator vitamin K2 (menaquinone 4), the vitamin Weston Price called Activator X. Intake of this vitamin is on the decline, because it's found in the kinds of once-common and prized foods we don't eat as much anymore: organ meats, fish eggs, and grass-fed animal fat like butter, tallow and lard.
Does Eating Red Meat Cause Cancer?
There was also a recent study linking red meat to cancer, reported a week or two ago on NPR: Study Links Red Meat To Cancer, Heart Disease.
They said that “Eating lots of red meat increases the chances of dying prematurely of cancer and heart disease.”
While most internet articles just repeated the news, telling us to eat less red meat, a few blogs challenged the study and outlined its flaws.
Here's Chris Masterjohn's report on The Daily Lipid: Will Eating Meat Make Us Die Younger?.
And here's The Healthy Skeptic's response: Where's the Beef?
Here's Dr. Eades' post on his Protein Power blog: Meat and Mortality