Fact CheckHealth

Fact-checking several claims on causes of kidney disease

Claim: A Facebook user shared a post with several claims on the functionality of the kidney and related diseases. 

Fact-checking several claims on causes of kidney disease

Three of the Facebook claims identified in this post are true while the other two are misleading claims.

Full Text 

According to the National Kidney Foundation, 10% of the population worldwide is affected by chronic kidney disease (CKD), and millions die each year because they do not have access to affordable treatment.

PubMed posits that the incidence of CKD (Chronic kidney disease) in Nigeria has been shown by various studies to range between 1.6 and 12.4 per cent.

Some weeks ago, Tribune reported that the Managing Director, Rencare African Limited,  Mr Zahi El-Khatib, said no fewer than 20, 000 Nigerians develop end-stage kidney disease every year.

On April 1, 2022, a prominent Nigerian actor widely known by his stage name and his comic appearances in Yoruba movies, Dejo Tunfulu, lost his life to kidney disease, Punch reported.

Kidney disease has taken the lives of many in developed and developing countries, as a result, conversations continue to be centred around its cause and preventive measures. 

Hence, a Facebook user, Aramide Olayemi Olaleye, in a Facebook group, Aramide Health Tips, shared a post with claims about the causes of kidney disease, sternly advising her followers to avoid the listed causes.

The Facebook group was created to share health tips by the administrator who served as the claimant and shared a list of causes of kidney disease in the group.

Fact-checking several claims on causes of kidney disease
The screenshot of the post on Facebook

Since the publication of the lists, the post has attracted over 200 likes, 100 shares and 50 comments. 

Most of the commenters thanked the platform’s admin for sharing the post. Patience Ugwuegede, one of the commenters wrote, “Informative and Educative. Thanks.” Another commenter, Ayan Abel Abiona, prayed for the admin: “Very Educative, God Bless You.”

The virality of the post and the likelihood of readers applying the information to the management of their health has necessitated this verification 

Verification

We highlighted five claims from this list and addressed them individually.

Claim 1: Delaying going to the toilet, and keeping your urine in your bladder for too long is a bad idea.

Fact-checking several claims on causes of kidney disease

Verdict 1: TRUE

In an article titled ‘Holding Your Pee: Is it Safe?’ Healthline notes that in rare cases, urine can go back up into the kidneys and lead to an infection or kidney damage.

Medical News Today also noted that “in some cases, holding in pee for too long can cause bacteria to multiply. This may lead to a urinary tract infection (UTI).”

On the dangers of delaying going to the toilet, Dr Babaniji Omosule, a nephrologist at the Clinical fellowship Renal Medicine, Worcestershire Royal Hospital advised that it is good to urinate promptly to avoid infection. 

“It is always good to urinate promptly as this might increase the risk of urine infections, as regular and good urine emptying prevents stasis which can be a focus for promoting infections.”

Our findings show that it is good to urinate promptly to avoid urinary infections. Good urine emptying prevents stasis which may lead to kidney infections. Hence, the claim is true.

Claim 2: Eating too much salt causes kidney disease.

Fact-checking several claims on causes of kidney disease

Verdict 2: TRUE

Action on Salt, a group concerned with salt and its effects on health based at the Queen Mary University of London and supported by 24 expert scientific members explains the relationship between the consumption of salt and the kidney.

According to the organisation, a high salt intake has been linked to an increase in protein in the urine, which is a key risk factor for kidney disease. There is now mounting evidence that a high salt intake can hasten the progression of renal disease in persons who already have it.

In an article in Economic Times, Doctor Kamlesh Parikh calls on readers to check their sodium intake. 

He said: “High-salt diets generally tend to alter the sodium balance in the body, causing the kidneys to malfunction and retain excess water. This process puts strain on the kidneys and may even lead to renal failure.”

Meanwhile, Dr Omosule revealed that “too much salt is not healthy generally and it can indirectly affect the kidney.”

He explained that too much salt has the potential to cause high blood pressure and that itself can cause or worsen kidney disease as high blood pressure is a leading cause of kidney disease.

According to the National Kidney Foundation, a dedicated organisation focused on fighting kidney disease, diabetes and high blood pressure are the two major causes of kidney disease. 

WebMd also states that diabetes and high blood pressure are the two major causes of kidney disease.

Our findings reveal that too much salt is not good for the body. High salt intake causes high blood pressure which is one of the leading causes of kidney disease.

Claim 3: Eating too much meat causes kidney disease.

Fact-checking several claims on causes of kidney disease

Verdict 3: TRUE

The National Kidney Foundation explains that the animal protein found in meat causes high levels of acid in the blood, which can harm the kidneys and lead to acidosis (a condition in which the kidneys are unable to eliminate acid quickly enough). 

Although all parts of the body require protein for growth, maintenance, and repair, a diet should be well balanced with fruits and vegetables.

Also, Medicinenet reported that a study carried out in Singapore suggests that eating red meat may boost the risk of kidney failure. According to the report, red meat intake, mostly pork, is strongly associated with an increased risk of end-stage renal disease, and the loss of normal kidney function. A similar report is also found on WebMD

Piedmont, similarly, on its list of kidney-damaging foods notes that diets high in animal protein from meats and dairy products can cause kidney damage because they can be very hard to metabolize.

Meanwhile, Dr Omosule explained that “too much red meat  also might not directly cause kidney disease but can cause raised cholesterol which will increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack.”  

He also noted that cardiovascular diseases tend to be higher in patients with kidney disease.

Our findings have shown that the protein from meats and dairy products can cause kidney damage. Hence, the claim is true.

Claim 4: Drinking too much caffeine causes kidney disease.

Fact-checking several claims on causes of kidney disease

Verdict 4: MISLEADING 

Fresenius Kidney Care, an organisation helping people with chronic kidney disease, notes that Caffeine, in general, is unlikely to harm your kidneys if consumed in small amounts. The website explains that caffeine is a stimulant that can cause increased blood flow, blood pressure, and kidney stress. Caffeine abuse has also been linked to kidney stones.

As reported by the Independent, blood metabolites linked to coffee use have been revealed by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health to potentially increase the chance of acquiring kidney disease.

According to the National Kidney Foundation, research has not shown that drinking 3-4 cups of coffee a day increases the risk of kidney disease or increases the rate of decline of kidney function. However, moderating how much coffee you drink is a good idea.

Research by the National Institute of Health shows that carbonated beverage consumption has been linked to diabetes, hypertension, and kidney stones, all risk factors for chronic kidney disease. In fact, the research posits that drinking two or more colas per day was associated with an increased risk of chronic kidney disease.

Dr Omosule, however, noted that he is not aware of any proven direct or indirect link between caffeine and kidney disease. “A few isolated studies have argued for and against,” he added.

Studies on coffee and carbonated drinks all point to the fact that there is an increased risk of acquiring chronic kidney disease when they are consumed in excess but there is no direct causal link.

Claim 5: Not drinking water causes kidney disease.

Fact-checking several claims on causes of kidney disease

Verdict 5: MISLEADING 

The National Kidney Foundation states that severe dehydration can cause kidney damage, so it is advised that people drink plenty of water when working or exercising hard, especially in hot and humid weather. According to the foundation, some studies have found that even frequent mild dehydration can cause permanent kidney damage.

Norman Urology concurs with the National Kidney Foundation’s assertion. According to Norman Urology, Chronic and severe dehydration can lead to permanent kidney damage including low kidney function and kidney failure.

Kidney Research UK notes that drinking sufficient levels of fluid daily is an important part of kidney health. The organisation affirmed that drinking a lot of fluids may help lessen the chance of developing chronic kidney disease by assisting the kidneys in excreting waste products like urea and salt, according to researchers in Australia and Canada.

Mayo Clinic also mentions that dehydration can lead to serious complications which include urinary and kidney problems. The organisation explains that prolonged or repeated bouts of dehydration can lead to urinary tract infections, kidney stones and even kidney failure.

On the impact of dehydration, according to the nephrologist, not drinking enough water can affect the kidney. “It can make you dehydrated and that is why we often encourage people to drink plenty of water.”

Our findings from a nephrologist and professional medical websites indicate that dehydration, which includes not drinking water or sufficient levels of fluids, can affect the kidney and cause serious complications which include urinary and kidney problems.

Conclusion

Our findings show that three out of the five claims identified in this post are true while two are misleading. 

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