Tue, Aug 21, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Toxic melamine is cause of kidney stones: research

HOUSEHOLD MENACE:The study of the dangerous chemical links it to a renal illness and warns that it is often found in poorly produced kitchenware

By Stacy Hsu  /  Staff writer, with CNA

People who are exposed to low levels of melamine on a regular basis could become particularly vulnerable to kidney disease, a Taiwanese urologist said following the recent publication of his latest research, entitled Low Exposure to Melamine Increases the Risk of Urolithiasis in Adults, in the medical publication Kidney International.

According to Liu Cha-chu (劉家駒), a urologist at Kaohsiung Medical University Chung-ho Memorial Hospital, who conducted the research, people are easily exposed to melamine — a chemical that can cause toxicity problems and damage the kidneys — as the market is saturated with poorly produced kitchenware which can leech the harmful substance if heated beyond 60oC.

In order to avoid consuming the dangerous chemical, people are advised to use kitchenware made from porcelain or iron, Liu said, adding that insufficient levels of water consumption, obesity, smoking and chewing betel nut also increase the chances of developing a urinary stone, also known as urinary calculi.

Liu said he established the direct relationship between chronic exposure to low-level melamine and urinary calculi after comparing 422 samples collected from 211 physically healthy adults against 211 people with urinary calculi, the control group.

A total of 62.1 percent of those in the control group were found to have excessive trace levels of melamine in their urine, while only 20.4 percent of those from the normal group showed the same result, Liu said.

Closer examination of their urine revealed that when compared with the normal group, people in the control group were three times more likely to suffer from urinary stone illness. This increased to as much as 7.64 times for certain people, Liu said.

Melamine factbox

‧ Study links people exposed to low levels of melamine on a regular basis to kidney stone disease.

‧ Those failing to consume enough water consumption, the obese, smoker and betel nut addicts are more prone to the disease.

‧ The 2008 China milk powder scare prompted widescale research.

Following the 2008 milk powder scare, when large quantities of powdered infant formula imported by China’s Sanlu Group were found to contain melamine, Liu said a host of researchers started looking into the connection between the chemical and urinary stone problems in infants.

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