Does global warming give you kidney stones?

Q: I just heard that global warming causes kidney stones. Is this really true?  It sounds like an urban myth. –Victor, Paducah, KY

A: It’s no hoax. Weird as it seems, we can add our urological health to the list of reasons to stop heating up the planet. A study just published in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Science predicts that some parts of the United States might see up to 30 percent more kidney stones by 2050 if temperatures rise at rates projected by a widely accepted model. Ouch. Or, as anyone who’s ever had a kidney stone would put it, Ouch mother-f*cker, god@mn, holy sh*t, just shoot me now. So, anyway, why is there a link between these two seemingly unrelated problems? It’s actually pretty simple—kidney stones are related to dehydration, which is related to increased sweating, which in turn is related to hotter weather. Hopefully sparing two million or so folks some excruciating pain will help motivate more of us to reduce our climate footprint, but in case it doesn’t, the study’s authors have put the problem in monetary terms, too: The increase would cost the US healthcare system about $1 billion year. And it’s worth noting that the authors crunched the numbers for the US only, but added that the rest of the world is likely to see a similar increase. That would mean a lot of people screaming in pain. A shout heard round the world, perhaps, if we do indeed continue along the current trajectory.

-Sarah Schmidt

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