Climate Change Expected to Increase U.S. Incidence of Kidney Stones

Climate change has become a buzzword; increasing global temperatures will have health ramifications that perhaps we haven’t considered. Recent health information suggests that hotter weather is likely to increase the incidence of kidney stones in the US, and potentially, worldwide. The news comes from researchers at the University of Texas at Dallas and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

The conclusions are based on an analysis of the current rate of kidney stones in relationship to how much temperatures are going to increase in the coming years. Tom Brikowski, PhD, and colleagues estimate that hotter climates will lead to an increased incidence of kidney stones up to 30% in some areas by the year 2050. Populations hardest hit include the Midwest and Southern states according to a statement from the research team, published in the July 15 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

There’s not much to the scientific methods used to develop the theory, other than the number crunching. The results simply stem from the fact that we are likely to become more dehydrated in hotter weather, making kidney stone formation more prevalent. The researchers say, the problem is “yet another challenge to the task of adapting to climate change in this century."

Kidney stones are terribly painful. Kidney stone formation may require hospitalization, invasive testing for diagnosis, and perhaps surgery. As warmer weather arrives, we all need to be mindful about the benefits of staying well hydrated, and not just as it relates to kidney stones.

Highly concentrated urine and decreased urinary output are known contributors to the formation of kidney stones, though dietary intake also plays a role. You can learn more by visiting the links below.

The Role of Diet in the Prevention of Common Kidney Stones
Stone Disease Resource Center

Brikowski, T. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, July 15, 2008; vol 105: pp. 9841-9846.