Excessive consumption of phosphate is damaging to health. Therefore, food that contains phosphate additives should be labeled, as recommended by Eberhard Ritz and coauthors in their article in the current issue of Deutsches Ärzteblatt International [Dtsch Arztebl Int.
Ritz et al. selectively review the literature on the subject, which documents the fact that excessive phosphate consumption elevates mortality in patients with renal disease. Recent studies have also shown that phosphate apparently damages blood vessels and induces aging processes. Free phosphate (the type found in food additives) is entirely resorbed in the gastrointestinal tract. Persons with renal disease have been found to have a markedly elevated serum phosphate concentration.
Phosphate additives are present in many types of fast food, which are eaten mainly by persons of lower socioeconomic status. It seems likely that excessive phosphate consumption is linked to the increased prevalence of cardiovascular diseases in the general population.
The authors conclude that physicians and the public need to be educated about the role of phosphate additives as a risk factor for disease.
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