Prevalence of kidney stones doubles in wake of obesity epidemic

May 23, 2012

The number of Americans suffering from kidney stones between 2007 and 2010 nearly doubled since 1994, according to a study by researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and RAND.

"While we expected the prevalence of to increase, the size of the increase was surprising," says Charles D. Scales, Jr., MD, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation/U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Clinical Scholar in the departments of urology and medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. "Our findings also suggested that the increase is due, in large part, to the increase in obesity and diabetes among Americans."

The study entitled, "The Prevalence of Kidney Stones" in the United States is being presented today at the 2012 American Urological Meeting in Atlanta, Georgia and will appear in the July print edition of the journal European Urology.

This is one of the first studies to examine the new data from the National Health and (NHANES) that was collected from 2007 to 2010. NHANES is a program of studies within the to assess the health and of adults and children in the United States.

Scales and his colleagues reviewed responses from 12,110 people and found that between 2007 and 2010, 8.8 percent of the U.S. population had a kidney stone, or one out of every 11 people. In 1994 the rate was one in 20. No data about the national prevalence of kidney stones in the United States were collected between 1994 and 2007.

Because the survey also asks about other health conditions, and includes measurement of height and weight, the researchers were able to identify associations between kidney stones and other health conditions. The results suggest that obesity, diabetes, and gout all increase the risk of kidney stones.

The authors assert that these findings have important implications for the public as well as . "People should consider the increased risk of kidney stones as another reason to maintain a healthy lifestyle and body weight," says Christopher S. Saigal, MD, MPH, senior author, principal investigator within RAND Health for the Urologic Diseases in America project and associate professor of urology, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. "But physicians need to rethink how to treat, and more importantly, prevent kidney stones."

Currently, the primary approach to treating patients with kidney stones is to focus on the stones. Yet helping patients maintain a healthy diet and body weight can reduce the number of patients with kidney stones.

"Imagine that we only treated people with heart disease when they had chest pain or heart attacks, and did not help manage risk factors like smoking, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure," says Scales. "This is how we currently treat people with kidney stones. We know the risk factors for kidney stones, but treatment is directed towards patients with stones that cause pain, infection, or blockage of a kidney rather than helping patients to prevent kidney stones in the first place."

In an accompanying editorial that will also appear in the journal, Brian Matlaga, MD, MPH, associate professor of urology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, writes that the cost of care for this disease is enormous, and there is no indication that the coming years will see any improvement in this trend. He also warns that, since approximately 10 percent of the population has the disease, a greater emphasis on prevention is imperative.

Explore further: Study finds no correlation between primary kidney stone treatment and diabetes

Related Stories

Study finds no correlation between primary kidney stone treatment and diabetes

October 21, 2011
A Mayo Clinic study finds no correlation between the use of shock waves to break up kidney stones and the long-term development of diabetes. The study was released Friday during a meeting of the North Central Section of the ...

Recommended for you

How hepatitis C hides in the body

October 13, 2017
The Hepatitis C (HCV) virus is a sly enemy to have in one's body. Not only does it manage to make itself invisible to the immune system by breaking down communication between the immune cells, it also builds secret virus ...

Largest study yet of malaria in Africa shows historical rates of infection

October 12, 2017
(Medical Xpress)—A team of researchers with members from the Kenya Medical Research Institute, the University of Oxford and the University of KwaZulu-Natal has conducted the largest-ever study of the history of malaria ...

Promising new target for treatment of psoriasis is safe, study shows

October 11, 2017
A protein known to play a significant role in the development of psoriasis can be prevented from functioning without posing a risk to patients, scientists at King's College London have found.

Norovirus evades immune system by hiding out in rare gut cells

October 11, 2017
Noroviruses are the leading cause of non-bacterial gastroenteritis in the world and are estimated to cause 267 million infections and 20,000 deaths each year. This virus causes severe diarrhea, nausea, and stomach pain.

Research reveals how rabies can induce frenzied behavior

October 11, 2017
Scientists may finally understand how the rabies virus can drastically change its host's behavior to help spread the disease, which kills about 59,000 people annually.

Experimental Ebola vaccines elicit year-long immune response

October 11, 2017
Results from a large randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial in Liberia show that two candidate Ebola vaccines pose no major safety concerns and can elicit immune responses by one month after initial vaccination that ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.