Food labels conceal kidney-harming phosphorus content

February 11th, 2009 - 4:40 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Feb 11 (ANI): A large number of processed and fast foods hide information about phosphorus additives, which can be dangerous for kidney patients, according to researchers from MetroHealth Medical Center and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland.

High blood levels of phosphorus can lead to heart disease, bone disease, and even death among patients with advanced kidney disease.

Thus, patients must avoid foods with naturally high levels of phosphorus such as certain meats, dairy products, whole grains, and nuts.

However, the researchers found that it has become an increasingly common practice by food manufacturers to include phosphorus additives, such as sodium phosphate or pyrophosphate, to processed foods.

The additives are used to enhance flavour and shelf life particularly in meats, cheeses, baked goods, and beverages and thus it gets difficult for consumers to know whether or not these additives are present in products.

“Calories, fat, and sodium content are required to be listed on nutrition labels, but phosphorus is not. This makes it impossible for kidney disease patients to know how much phosphorus they are eating. For example, we discovered that while chicken is often on dialysis patients” ”Safe List” of foods to eat, chicken from fast food and sit down restaurants often contains this phosphorus additive,” said Catherine Sullivan, M.S., R.D., lead researcher from the Center for Reducing Health Disparities.

It was found that the researchers could significantly lower phosphorus levels among advanced kidney disease patients after teaching them how to avoid foods containing phosphorus additives.

Then 279 advanced kidney disease patients receiving dialysis treatment were assigned to a control group that received usual care or to an intervention group that was taught to avoid additive-containing foods when purchasing groceries or eating at fast food restaurants.

After three months, phosphorus levels declined two and a half times more in the intervention group than in the control group.

However, the researchers found that these additives may even affect people with normal kidney function.

Previous research has found that high phosphorus diets appear to lower bone density and increase fracture risk as well.

The study is published in the latest issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). (ANI)

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