Climate change could be associated with an increase in the incidence of kidney stones, according to a recent study.
Gregory Tasian, MD, MSc, MSCE, of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and fellow researchers looked at exposure to any daily temperature in relation to kidney stone patients in five major cities across the U.S. (Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia).
They used an administrative dataset called MarketScan to cross-reference patient data with every temperature in each city from 2005 to 2011.
They found that as temperatures rose, the risk of presenting for kidney stones in both adults and children was increased. At around 86 degrees Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius), the likelihood of patients presenting with kidney stones within 20 days was upwards of 36% in some cities.
While they also found that in several cities (Atlanta, Chicago, Philadelphia) the risk of presenting with stones actually increased in colder temperatures, the rise was not as dramatic as in higher temperatures, and was consistent across all three cities. They hypothesized that a reason for this increase was that these patients spent more time indoors and are therefore consistently exposed to ambient indoor temperature.
“The first thing that we have to do is validate our findings in other data sets and populations,” Dr. Tasian said in an editorial. “I’d like to use these data and, after validation, estimate the prevalence of stone disease in the U.S. under different climate-change predictive models.”
With a group of collaborators that included investigators from the University of California, Los Angeles, and the London School of Hygiene, as well as a climate scientist from Rutgers University, we looked at five cities in the United States: Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia.
Our goal was to estimate risk of presenting with a stone within 20 days of exposure to any daily temperature, within the range of temperatures in each of those cities. We also sought to estimate the lag between exposure to that temperature and presenting with a stone. For example, if you are exposed to an 86°F-day today, when is the greatest probability that you will present with a kidney stone?