While the link between smoking and kidney disease risk is well known, a new study from the University of Mississippi Medical Center shows that smoking may be particularly harmful for African Americans. The researchers were able to analyze kidney function and decline in 3,648 African Americans ranging in age from 21 to 84 years. They found that smokers in the group had a higher rate of kidney function decline (up to 83% higher) than non-smokers. Heavy smokers were at even greater risk of kidney damage than those who smoked less. Study participants who smoked up to 19 cigarettes a day had 75% greater decline in kidney function; with 20 or more cigarettes a day, decline jumped to 97%. The researchers suspect that high inflammation levels in African American smokers and susceptibility to the toxic chemicals in cigarettes could contribute to the high rates of kidney injury in this group.
More research and intervention is needed to protect kidney health in African Americans. Helping patients to stop smoking and getting the word out about the kidney risks could go a long way to achieving this aim. “It’s important for those who have risk factors for kidney disease to realize that smoking is a significant risk factor and could ultimately end up leading to dialysis,” said lead investigator, Michael Hall, M.D., assistant professor at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.
Smoking May Increase Kidney Disease Risk in African Americans, Medical Xpress, May 25, 2016