Global Warming To Boost Risk Of Kidney Stones

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Stone Age

Current U.S. ‘stone-belt’ or high-risk kidney stone area in yellow. Computer model predicts expansion of stone-belt over time in orange (2050) and in red (2095). Currently, 41% of the population is within a high-risk zone. Computer model predicts 56% of the population will be in a high-risk zone by 2050 and 70% by 2095. Via PNAS 2008.

Global warming likely increases the risk of kidney stones. I recently was diagnosed with stones. Coincidence? Probably!

The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia reported this month on a major study, “Climate Change May Bring More Kidney Stones.” The news release noted, “a research team found a link between hot days and kidney stones in 60,000 patients in several U.S. cities with varying climates.”

The study, published in the journal of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, was led by Dr. Gregory Tasian, a pediatric urologist and epidemiologist. He concluded:

“Kidney stone prevalence has already been on the rise over the last 30 years, and we can expect this trend to continue, both in greater numbers and over a broader geographic area, as daily temperatures increase. With some experts predicting that extreme temperatures will become the norm in 30 years, children will bear the brunt of climate change.”

While team denial was feigning injury at the mere notion that a potentially serious medical condition was being linked to warming, team reality noted that this isn’t a new or surprising finding in the least. Back in May 2008, the American Urological Association summarized a new study on global warming and kidney stones this way:

Rising global temperatures could lead to an increase in kidney stones…. Dehydration has been linked to stone disease, particularly in warmer climates, and global warming will exacerbate this effect. As a result, the prevalence of stone disease may increase, along with the costs of treating the condition.

The well known alarmists at the Mayo Clinic note that “Dehydration” is one of the “Risk Factors” for stones: “Not drinking enough water each day can increase your risk of kidney stones. People who live in warm climates and those who sweat a lot may be at higher risk than others.”

Dehydration reduces urine volume, which increases the chances that salt crystals will form in one’s kidneys. Back in 1996, well-known alarmists at the American Journal of Epidemiology published a study, “Relation between Geographic Variability in Kidney Stones Prevalence and Risk Factors for Stones,” that concluded “These results provide evidence that ambient temperature and sunlight levels are important risk factors for stones.” They cited many earlier studies with similar findings.

kidney stones

Scatter plot of U.S. prevalence rates for kidney stone by state for each gender versus the mean annual temperature for that state. Via the journal Kidney International.

The chart above comes from the well-known alarmists at the the official journal of the International Society of Nephrology. The review article, “Ambient temperature as a contributor to kidney stone formation: implications of global warming,” concludes “a body of literature suggests a role of heat and climate as significant risk factors for lithogenesis [the creation of stones]” — especially in men.

The American Urological Association wrote six years ago:

The southern United States is considered “the stone belt” because these states have higher incidences of kidney stones. Rising global temperatures could expand this region; the fraction of the U.S. population living in high-risk stone zones is predicted to grow from 40 percent in 2000 to 50 percent by 2050.

That research was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (here). It is the source of the top figure.

When I mentioned to my urologist that a recent study predicted an increase in kidney stones from global warming, he could not have been less nonplussed. I, in turn, was nonplussed, but that was before I looked at some of the vast literature on the subject.

The disinformers often push the absurd myth that action on climate change would lead us back to the Stone Age — is if slowing global growth by a mere 0.06% per year is somehow a hardship. It does, however, seem that inaction on climate change will lead to a new Age of Stones.