Chewing gum helpful in treating kidney diseases

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Chewing gum with a phosphate-binding ingredient can help treat high phosphate levels in dialysis patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD), according to a study.

The results suggest that this simple step could maintain proper phosphate levels and also help prevent cardiovascular disease in these patients.

Hyperphosphatemia (high levels of phosphate in the blood) commonly occurs in CKD patients on dialysis.

Even when patients take medications to reduce phosphate acquired through their diet, about half of them cannot reduce phosphate to recommended levels. Because hyperphosphatemia patients also have high levels of phosphate in their saliva, researchers tested whether there might be a benefit to binding salivary phosphate during periods of fasting, in addition to using phosphate binders with meals.

Vincenzo Savica and Lorenzo A. Cal the Universities of Messina and Padova, Italy, respectively, and colleagues recruited 13 dialysis patients with high blood phosphate levels to chew 20 mg of phosphate-binding chewing gum twice daily for two weeks between meals, in addition to their prescribed phosphate-binding regimen.

Savica and Cal team found that salivary phosphate and blood phosphate levels decreased during the first week of chewing, and by a fortnight, salivary phosphate decreased 55 percent and blood phosphate decreased 31 percent from levels measured at the start of the study.

Salivary phosphate returned to its original level by day 15 after discontinuing the chewing gum, whereas blood phosphate took 30 days to return to its original value, said a Messina-Padova joint release.

While these observations are preliminary and require confirmation in a randomised, double blind, placebo controlled study with more participants, the findings indicate that this chewing regimen might help control phosphate levels in patients with CKD.

These findings were published in March issue of the Journal of the American Society Nephrology (JASN).


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