Kidneys stones are a common condition. Men have a 13 percent risk and women have a 7 percent risk of developing kidneys stones in their lifetime. A person with a history of kidney stones has a 50 percent risk of recurrence in the first five years and an 80 percent recurrence at 10 years.
The risk factors for kidney stones include:
- Inadequate fluid intake
- Diets high in protein, sodium, and oxalate-rich foods, such as dark green vegetables
- Certain medications
- Family history of kidney stones
- Recurrent urinary tract infections
- Diseases such as Crohn’s disease, hyperparathyroidism, or gout
Some believe that drinking milk can increase the risk of kidney stones. However, it’s a mere myth and has no scientific basis. It is believed that calcium in the milk can accumulate and result in stone formation in the kidneys. However, the fact is that milk can actually protect the kidneys.
Milk and kidney stones: The truth
In a study, people with a history of kidney stones gave up milk and milk products believing that milk causes kidney formation. However, even after giving up milk, their urinary calcium levels did not decrease, implying that milk consumption is not related to kidney stones.
Though calcium supplements may pose a risk of developing kidney stones, the dietary supplements of calcium are always protective for the kidneys.
Benefits of milk
Some fruits, vegetables, and grains that we consume contain oxalates, which increase the risk of kidney stones. Oxalate stones are also formed due to a high-dose of vitamin C supplements. In such instance, calcium from the milk helps limit the absorption of oxalates by binding to them. As some amount of calcium is excreted from the body along with oxalate, it is recommended to consume milk between the meals to compensate for the dietary loss of calcium.
There is good evidence which indicates that consuming milk products and other dietary calcium does not increase the risk of kidney stones. In fact, they are recommended for reducing the risk of kidney stones formation. Many studies have proved that high dietary calcium intake is associated with a lower risk in the formation of kidney stones.
Urinary oxalate levels are more powerful indicator than urinary calcium levels. If dietary calcium is decreased, the intestines absorb more oxalate, leading to high levels of oxalate in the urine, thus, increasing the risk for kidney stones.
The take home message
Milk is a dairy product with many beneficial properties. There are risk factors which can be modified and controlled to reduce the risk of kidney stones; reducing the intake of milk and its products may deprive us of the many health benefits.