Global Warming to Cause More… Kidney Stones?

By Eliza Strickland | July 15, 2008 8:16 am

kidney stoneThis may not be high on your list of global warming fears, especially when compared to the increase in droughts, floods, and storms that are expected in a warmer world, but researchers’ prediction of an increase in kidney stones means that many Americans will feel the pain of climate change inside their own bodies.

Linking climate change to kidney stones seems odd, but it’s based on the solid medical finding that people in warm regions develop the condition at increased rates. Sweating in warm weather removes fluid from the body and increases the salt concentration in urine, which can spur the growth of kidney stones…. The new study predicts about 2.2 million additional climate-related kidney stone cases each year by 2050 [Chicago Tribune].

In the report, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences [subscription required], researchers say that warmer temperatures in the United States will expand the “kidney stone belt,” an area of the Southeast U.S. where men are twice as likely to develop the disease compared with the Northeast [Bloomberg]. Researchers predict more cases of the excruciatingly painful condition in places such as California and along the East Coast, but also note that kidney stones are easily preventable; people just need to drink more water. But doctors said getting an entire region of the country to change drinking habits could prove difficult [Chicago Tribune].

Global warming is expected to cause an uptick in infectious diseases such as malaria and dengue fever as the mosquitoes that carry those diseases spread farther north, but this study is a reminder that climate shifts will have more wide-ranging effects on public health. “We’re always hearing about vector-borne diseases, about how climate change will influence the environment and indirectly us,” said [study coauthor Margaret] Pearle. “But this is a case of an environmentally sensitive disease process” [Wired News].

Image: flickr/TedsBlog

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Environment, Health & Medicine
  • CathysBlog

    I would like to see what percentage of those studied are drinking diuretics on a regular basis: soda, iced coffee, alcohol, gatorade and the sodium filled bottled water that we think is quenching our thirst? Increased input of bad fluids will increase output and rob our cells. You would have to change other habits as well. I know someone who had stones due to smoking. Smokers add more salt to their food because there taste buds don’t work as well as non-smokers. How many of these studied were smokers? Do you really believe the climate is causing stones? Come on…..

  • Paul V. Sheridan

    CathysBlog, you’re on the right track. As it turns out this type of ‘overreaching’ indicates desperation, not confidence, in the agenda that human CO2 (and ONLY human CO2) is driving climate; which is also absurd on its face, let-alone in terms of the true science, see:

    My recent oped here:

  • Marylynn Carroway

    I am really impressed with your writing skills as well as with the layout on your blog. Is this a paid theme or did you modify it yourself? Either way keep up the nice quality writing, it is rare to see a great blog like this one nowadays..


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