Summer, Kidney Stones and Global Warming

renal stone

Researchers at The Children’s Hospital, Philadelphia have found a correlation between hot days and kidney stones. They studied 60,000 adults and children with kidney stones in several US cities of varying climates including Atlanta, Dallas, Chicago, Los Angeles and Philadelphia. The research was held between 2005 and 2011 and was published in Environmental Health Perspectives.

Study leader Dr. Gregory E. Tasian says that they found as the daily temperatures rises, there is an increase in the probability of patients presenting with kidney stones in the next 20 days. He states that the main cause for this increase in kidney stones is dehydration. The urine becomes much concentrated when the body lacks adequate water. As a result, minerals in urine like calcium and phosphorus are precipitated to form stones.

Dr. Tasian is also of the opinion that kidney stone disease has been tremendously increasing over the past 30 years and the link between hot days and increased stones has been clearly observed over the same period. Increase in kidney stones could be one of the potential health effects related to global climate change. He further alerts that the percentage of population susceptible to kidney stones is as high as 10 percent.

Paradoxically, the study team also found that very cold weather also increased the risk of stone formation in three cities: Chicago, Atlanta and Philadelphia. The researchers suggest that very low temperatures keep people inside and restrict their physical activity; besides, such lifestyle changes along with diet modifications during extremely cold weather puts people at increased risk of kidney stones.  

According to the study rather than the average annual temperature, the number of hot days in a year may better forecast the risk of kidney stones. They say that Los Angeles and Atlanta have the same annual temperature of 63 F; however, Atlanta experiences more number of hot days than Los Angeles. Eventually, prevalence of kidney stones is nearly twice in Atlanta!

Experts hypothesise that this condition may become more common as the average global temperature in the recent years has gone up compared to the 20th century average and scientists expect more warming in the forthcoming years.

So, what’s the message? It is important to always stay hydrated to prevent formation of renal stones.

Sunday, July 20, 2014
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