So, a chronic, low-level presence of melamine in food is going to present a greater challenge for people with diabetes, or for anyone with a chronic kidney condition.
Having high blood pressure (over 120/80)1 in addition to diabetes will accelerate kidney damage. Just having high blood pressure alone - without a diagnosis of diabetes - can damage kidneys. It strains the tiny blood vessels that make up a kidney filtering unit - a glomerulus (I swear after all these years I still have difficulty pronouncing that word). Lose the function of enough of your glomeruli and you're on dialysis.
Also, having kidney disease (whose symptoms are often silent) accelerates heart disease. Conversely, cardiovascular disease accelerates kidney disease.2
These conditions are all linked. Melamine can cause kidney disease or can accelerate kidney disease if you already have it, and kidney disease can accelerate heart disease. It's not a stretch to hypothesize that chronic low levels of melamine could contribute to heart disease.
According to this article that appeared in the New York Times yesterday (sent in by reader BL):
Kidney Disease Takes a Growing Toll
"We’ve had a marked increase in chronic kidney disease in the last 10 years."... a lot more people are going to have difficulty handling contaminants like melamine in their food.
We really need to ascertain levels of melamine in food.
If you're concerned about your kidneys, there are three tests I know of that can judge their function:
- Check the rate at which kidneys filter blood, a GFR (Glomerular Filtration Rate), requires a blood sample.
- Check levels of protein (albumin) in the urine.
- Check for anemia, specifically hemoglobin. The kidneys make a hormone, called erythropoietin (a word I can pronounce, really) that stimulates production of red blood cells. By the way, this is a reason people with kidney problems are often tired.
2 Independent Components of Chronic Kidney Disease as a Cardiovascular Risk State, Archives of Internal Medicine, June 2007.