Monday, 22 April 2013

Smoking may be affecting young people's kidney function

A recent news release from some Johns Hopkins research scientists suggests that smoking, both actively and exposure to passive / second hand smoke may be affecting the kidney function of adolescents. Their research suggests that the effects of tobacco smoke of the kidneys starts in childhood.

It's a bit of an understatement to say that smoking is associated with health problems (even if for literally decades the tobacco companies denied this!). This new research found that exposure to tobacco, including secondhand smoke and active smoking, was associated with lower estimated glomerular filtration rates — a common measure of how well the kidneys are working.

A surprising number of young people try smoking, trying to pretend they are cool and grown-up - forgetting that most grown-ups don't smoke and thus showing that they are children. And along the way they are affecting their kidney function.

“Small changes in the distribution of estimated glomerular filtration rate levels in the population could have a substantial impact in kidney-related illness, as it is well known for changes in blood pressure levels and hypertension-related disease. Evaluating potential secondhand smoke exposure and providing recommendations to minimize exposure should continue to be incorporated as part of children’s routine medical care,” noted Jeffrey Fadrowski, MD, MHS, co-author of the study and an assistant professor in Pediatric Nephrology at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

“Tobacco as a chronic kidney disease risk factor is of great concern given the high prevalence of use and the chronicity that most often accompanies this exposure. Protecting young people from active smoking is essential since nearly 80 percent of adults who smoke begin smoking by 18 years of age,” said Navas-Acien.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Apples and Pears - the Difference Really Matters

People's body shape can be classified as being an apple or a pear. Apple people, apart from buying expensive phones, carry excess weight around their abdomen, making them round, like an apple. Pear shaped people carry any excess weight a bit lower, around their hips. And why does this matter?

Because carrying excess weight around the abdomen is linked to an increased risk of kidney disease, a recent study suggests.

It was already known that being apple-shaped, as opposed to pear-shaped, added to the risk of developing cardiovascular problems. The new research, in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, found signs of kidney problems in even otherwise healthy apple-shaped people.

The study, by a team at the University Medical Center Groningen, in the Netherlands, examined 315 healthy individuals with an average BMI of 24.9 kg/m2 (normal weight range BMI 18.5–24.9 kg/m2) and found people with apple-shaped bodies tended to have lower kidney function, lower kidney blood flow, and higher blood pressure within the kidneys than people with pear-shaped bodies –even after adjusting for sex, age, mean arterial pressure, and BMI. They looked at the waist to hip measurement ratio as a way of quantifying a person's body shape.

High blood pressure in the kidneys of people with apple-shaped bodies may be responsible for their increased risk of developing kidney disease later in life.

So, what shape are you in? Would a bit of exercise and diet be a good idea?

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Racial differences in survival on dialysis

A recent article suggests that your genetic background dictates how long you might survive on dialysis. The work suggests that Hispanics tend to live longer than blacks and whites.

It's known that your ethnic background can affect how likely you are to need dialysis - diabetes is more common among some races for example, as mentioned here, so should it be surprizing that your survival time is also dependent on your race?

A number of theories exist as to why Hispanic and black dialysis patients tend to live longer than whites. It may be that Hispanic and black patients are more likely to die before they develop kidney failure, and those who survive are generally healthier and thus more likely to live longer than white patients, the researchers suggested.

The researchers examined data from the United States Renal Data System involving 1,282,201 adults on dialysis between 1995 and 2009.

Source: Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, news release, March 28, 2013