Rising Temperatures Could Mean Rise in Kidney Stones

July 16, 2008 08:00 AM
by Josh Katz
Global warming may be associated with an increase in kidney stones, say Dallas scientists in a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

30-Second Summary

The latest news on global warming’s impact may not be as serious as the hurricanes, tsunamis, global floods, droughts, and the spates of dengue fever and malaria commonly associated with the planet’s warming trend. But kidney stones are infamous for sometimes causing pain worse than childbirth.

Currently, about 12 percent of U.S. men and seven percent of women develop kidney stones. The problem is more prevalent in hotter climates; kidney stones occur 50 percent more in the Southeast than in the Northwest, which scientists attribute to the difference in temperature.

The hotter temperatures cause people to sweat more and not drink enough water to refill the fluids they have lost. When urine volume is low, it is more likely “that salt will clump together and form stones,” according to The Houston Chronicle.

The study predicts that the rate of kidney stones could increase about 30 percent in some parts of the United States by 2050, due to global warming.

The cost of treating the predicted increase in kidney stones is expected to reach about $1 billion, according to the report.

Although drinking more water—about eight cups a day—could counteract the decreased urine flow associated with warmer temperatures, scientist Margaret Pearle says that people often “don't adapt."

In March, a study tied global warming to breathing and respiratory difficulties, higher rates of infection and increased stress. In September 2007, scientists said that global warming could escalate the rates of cardiovascular disease by bringing about a hardening of the arteries.

Headline Links: Global warming may mean more kidney stones

Related Topics: Global warming may increase infections and cardiovascular disease

Reference: Kidney stones; global warming study


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