PHILADELPHIA (StudyFinds.org) – The climate crisis will make more people suffer from kidney stones, a new study predicts.
Researchers from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) say kidney stones are a condition in which hard deposits of minerals accumulate in the urine, causing great pain as they pass through the urinary tract. Their study shows that the incidence of this condition has increased in the last 20 years and is more prevalent among women and children.
“While it is impossible to predict with certainty how future policies will slow down or accelerate greenhouse gas emissions and man-made climate change, and to know exactly what future daily temperatures will be, our analysis suggests that a warming planet is likely to cause an increased burden of kidney stone disease on health systems, ”says senior author and urologist Dr. Gregory Tasian in a study media release.
Heat and kidney stones do not mix
Previous studies have shown that high room temperatures increase the risk of developing kidney stones, and especially in the United States, more people develop the condition after hot days. With this in mind, the researchers wanted to understand how climate change would affect future cases of kidney stones.
To do so, the team created a model to estimate the effect of heat on future kidney stone cases in South Carolina. They chose the southern state as a model because it is located within the “kidney stone belt” in the United States – a region in the southeast with a greater number of cases of kidney stone diseases than other areas.
Statens Health system also uses a claims database with all payers, which means researchers can easily capture stone diagnoses across the population, regardless of payer status.
Big differences between 2 possible futures
The team first looked at the relationship between historical daily average temperatures across the state and the number of kidney stone diagnoses between 1997 and 2014. They then used wet-bulb temperatures (WBT) – a humid heat metric that accounts for both space heat and humidity – as an accurate measure of predicting the presence of kidney stones.
Using the data to predict the heat-related number of kidney stones, the study authors were able to predict what the associated costs would be in the year 2089 based on two scenarios for climate change.
The first climate change scenario (RCP 4.5) represented an “intermediate” future with a shift towards lower emissions, the use of carbon capture technology, taxes on CO2 emissions and an expansion of forest areas from today to 2100. The second scenario (RCP 8.5 ) represented a future of mostly unrestrained greenhouse gas emissions.
The first scenario expected an increase of 4.1 degrees in the mean temperature (Fahrenheit) using the five-year period from 2010 to 2014 to model what the result would look like in the years 2085 to 2089. While the second scenario expected a much higher 6.5 degree rise within the same time frame.
Using their model, the researchers found that by 2089, heat-induced kidney stones would increase across the state by 2.2 percent in the intervening future and by 3.9 percent in the bleak future.
More kidney stone cases will be costly to the health care system
Based on the average cost of treatment – which can be more than $ 9,000 – the researchers predicted that from 2025 to 2089, the total cost attributable to these excess kidney stone cases would be $ 56.6 million for the first scenario and $ 99.4 million for the second.
“Our analysis is a model to conceptualize how the burden of kidney stone disease is expected to evolve with climate change, and also how greenhouse gas emission reductions can offset some of this burden,” explains first author Jason Kaufman, a fourth-year physician. students at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine.
“With climate change, we do not often talk about impact on human health, especially when it comes to children, but a warming planet will have significant effects on human health, ”adds Dr. Tasian. “As pediatric researchers, we have a duty to explore the burden of climate change on human health, as the children of today will live this reality in the future.”
The results are published in the journal Scientific reports.
South West News Service writer Georgia Lambert contributed to this report.
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