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Climate change may lead more people to develop kidney stones

Climate change may lead more people to develop kidney stones

Jan 26th 2022
Author: Amna N.
Review: Dr. Umair H.

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Global climate crisis could cause more people to suffer from kidney stones, study suggests.

According to a new finding by Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, kidney stones cases will increase between 2.2% and 3.9% as the global temperature rises. Raised temperatures due to the climate crisis will subsequently lead to a rise in people suffering from kidney stones. It is a painful medical condition which worsens by heat and dehydration, according to new discovery. Researchers used two climate scenarios to assess the burden of heat and humidity relating kidney stone disease by the end of the century in South Carolina, a region which currently has a higher than average prevalence rate.

About one in 10 people in US suffers from kidney stones at a certain point in their life. Kidney stones are caused by hard deposits of minerals (mostly calcium) that develop in concentrated urine and are extremely painful while passing through the urinary tract.

The incidence of kidney stones has escalated over the past two decades, especially among people of color, women and adolescents. According to researchers at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (Chop), the number of cases will significantly increase depending on whether greenhouse gas emissions continue at the current rate or are cut to an intermediate level, leading to a huge rise in health costs either way.

Diet and lifestyle changes have aided to the rise in the condition, but prior study has demonstrated that high ambient temperatures increase the risk. The number of people seeking medical help for kidney stones worsens during extremely hot days when the risk of dehydration increases.

A pediatric urologist at Chop and senior author of the study published in Scientific Reports states that impact of climate change on human health, particularly children, is often not discussed but a warming planet will have significant effects on human health. He further commented that it is impossible to predict with certainty how future policies will slow or hasten greenhouse gas emission and anthropogenic climate change, and to know exactly what future daily temperatures will be. He further suggested that as pediatric researchers, we have a duty to explore the burden of climate change on human health, as the children of today will be living this reality in the future.