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Climate Change May Increase the Risk of Kidney Stones, Study
- Updated: July 12, 2014
Researchers at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia suggest that increasing daily temperatures could be linked to rising numbers of patients who seek treatment for kidney stones. To the study, researchers analysed the medical records of 60,433 patients diagnosed with kidney stones between 2005 and 2011 in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles and Philadelphia, accounting for varying climates in those regions.
“We found that as daily temperatures rise, there is a rapid increase in the probability of patients presenting over the next 20 days with kidney stones,” said study leader Gregory E. Tasian, M.D., M.Sc., M.S.C.E., a pediatric urologist and epidemiologist at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), in a news release.
The size of a kidney stone compares to a dime. The stones are collections of crystals and protein that form in the kidney. When stones do not pass on their own, it may be necessary to remove them surgically.
The researchers found the correlation to exist in cities with disparate climates, that as the daily temperatures in the city rose past 50 degrees Fahrenheit, the risk for developing kidney stones increased in all cities except Los Angeles. Furthermore, the risk for many spiked after being in high temperatures for three days or more.
“However, although 11 per cent of the US population has had kidney stones, most people have not. It is likely that higher temperatures increase the risk of kidney stones in those people predisposed to stone formation,” said Tasian.
Experts explain that hotter temperatures increase the occurrence of dehydration, which in turn causes the liver to process more concentrated urine. However the researchers argue that the number of hot days in a given year may better predict kidney stone risk than the mean annual temperature.
The study team also found that some areas in lower temperature areas-including Atlanta, Chicago and Philadelphia-there was also an increased risk of kidney stones. The researchers suggest that because more people will remain indoors and decreased physical activity may raise their risk of kidney stones.