Toxic dishes can damage your kidneys

Ever found yourself wondering, what is Melamine? Melamine is an ingredient used in dishes that are inexpensive, durable, and easy to care for. As a bonus, they're even BPA-free, so you can see why they're so popular.

But whatever you do, don't use these dishes yourself -- because what is melamine? It's toxic, and new tests show how easily it can leech out of the dishes and into your food.

Researchers in Taiwan asked a dozen healthy volunteers to eat hot soup from either a melamine bowl or a ceramic bowl and then tested their urine for melamine 12 hours later.

Three weeks later, they repeated the experiment -- but switched the bowls around.

In nearly every case, the volunteers who ate out of the melamine bowls had higher urine levels of the chemical afterward -- nearly six times higher on average, going from 1.31 micrograms after eating from ceramic to 8.25 micrograms after eating from the melamine.

The researchers say everything from the brand of the dish to the type and temperature of food could play a role in how much melamine leeches out -- but the fact that any leeches out at all should be enough of a reason to avoid these dishes.

Human and animal studies have shown that even low levels of melamine -- including the levels that might leech out into your food from bowls and dishes -- could increase the risk of kidney stones in children and adults alike.

If you've never had kidney stones, you want to keep it that way. Patients who've had it tell me it's some of the worst pain they've ever felt in their lives.

In addition, higher levels of melamine can cause kidney damage, kidney failure, and even death.

Stick to ceramics or some other natural stoneware -- but make sure that whatever dishes you choose have not been treated with toxins or metals in either the manufacturing process or the glaze.

That might mean paying a little more for your dishes, and when you go dish shopping, knowing what is melamine and what's not. But with your family's safety on the line, I'd say it's worth the extra money.