Global warming effect on health

We are used to hearing about the dire effects global warming will have on the environment and the knock on effect on the animal and plant life of our planet. Now it seems that another animal is being affected: the human one. Apparently, as temperatures across the U.S. increase because of global warming, there is a suggestion that the prevalence of kidney stones is expected to grow.

Researchersat the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas have reported online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, that if the temperature overall increases by just 2.38°C, then such climate change is expected to create 1.61 to 2.25 million new cases of kidney stones by 2050. This is an increase of 7% from 2000 and would add $947 million to $1.33 billion in annual healthcare costs, according to the researchers’ calculations. This represents a 25% increase over the $5.3 billion spent in 2000.

They predict the increase would either be in a band covering the southern half of the U.S. or the upper Midwest. The maximum climate-related risk increases would be found in cities such as New York, Detroit, Chicago, Salt Lake City and Sacramento although they predict new cases would occur mostly in the Midwest and Northeast.

The south east of the US already has a 50% higher incidence of kidney stones than other parts of the country, due to regional differences in temperature. Rising temperatures are believed to be associated with a greater risk of kidney stones, perhaps because of increased dehydration, the researchers said, although the link hasn’t been proven. It also appears that when people relocate from areas of moderate temperature to areas with warmer climates, a rapid increase in stone risk has been observed and it would be interesting to track whether has also been the case with the substantial number of UK residents who have relocated to Spain and the South of France.