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Rising Temperatures can Increase Risk of Kidney Stones

Update Date: Jul 10, 2014 12:04 PM EDT

Climate changes can affect the onset of certain health conditions, a new study reported. According to researchers, rising temperatures could increase the number of kidney stone cases within the United States.

"We found that as daily temperatures rise, there is a rapid increase in the probability of patients presenting over the next 20 days with kidney stones," said study leader Gregory E. Tasian, M.D., M.Sc., M.S.C.E., a pediatric urologist and epidemiologist at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP).

For this study, Tasian, who worked with senior author Ron Keren, M.D., MPH and colleagues, examined medical data on over 60,000 adults and children who suffered from kidney stones. The researchers focused on the cases that occurred between 2005 and 2011 in five main cities, which were Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles and Philadelphia. They looked at these cases in relation to temperature recordings.

The researchers found that as the daily temperatures in each city increased past 50 degrees Fahrenheit, people's risk of developing kidney stones increased in all cities except Los Angeles. People's risk spiked within three days after being exposed to high temperatures. Even though the researchers could not pinpoint exactly what caused the increased risk, they reasoned that during warmer days, people tend to have a greater risk of dehydration. Dehydration can lead to an increase in the concentration of calcium as well as other minerals present in urine, which can then lead to the development of kidney stones.

"These findings point to potential public health effects associated with global climate change," said Tasian in the press release. "However...although 11 percent of the U.S. population has had kidney stones, most people have not. It is likely that higher temperatures increase the risk of kidney stones in those people predisposed to stone formation."

The researchers added that lower temperatures in Atlanta, Chicago and Philadelphia were also tied to an increased risk of kidney stones. They reasoned that lower temperatures forced people to remain indoors, where the heat increases body temperatures significantly. High indoor temperatures in combination with a lack of exercise could promote the growth of kidney stones.

The study, "Daily Mean Temperature and Clinical Kidney Stone Presentation in Five U.S. Metropolitan Areas: A Time Series Analysis," was published in the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences' journal, Environmental Health Perspectives.

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