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For many decades, the U.S. Surgeon General has warned Americans about the ill effects from smoking. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smoking harms nearly every organ of the body. Therefore, it is not surprising to learn that smoking also plays a role in the progression of chronic kidney disease (CKD). The first study that showed the connection between smoking and kidney disease was done in 1978. Since then many studies have supported this finding.
According to the Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial (MRFIT), smoking is one of the leading risk factors that can lead to end stage renal disease (ESRD).
Here are some of the possible ways smoking is thought to harm kidneys:
In addition to tobacco, smoking allows other toxins into the body. And according to the American Association of Kidney Patients (AAKP), studies have shown that smoking is harmful for the kidneys, and can cause kidney disease to progress and increases the risk for proteinuria (excessive amount of protein in the urine).
Diabetes and high blood pressure are the two leading causes of CKD. Studies have found that people with diabetes and/or high blood pressure who smoke add to the risk of getting CKD. In both groups smoking increased the chances of getting renal disease. Smoking also accelerated the occurrence of kidney disease. Stopping smoking was shown to help a person maintain kidney function.
For people with kidney disease who smoke, stopping may be the one most important thing they can do to slow the progression of both kidney and heart failure.
For people who have had a kidney transplant and not stopped smoking, their chances of survival decrease due to the risk of cardiovascular problems. The best way to a successful transplant outcome is to stop smoking.
According to information from the Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial, men in the general population, who don’t have kidney disease, are at an increased risk for getting end stage renal disease if they are smokers. The risk gets even higher for heavy smokers. Cigarette smoking has been called the most preventable risk factor for maintaining good health. Studies show that in addition to heart disease, cancer and the other diseases attributed to smoking, it has also contributed to renal failure among those who were not kidney disease patients.
Since the number of cigarettes smoked tend to increase the risks for renal failure, cutting down may be helpful. Ideally, however, quitting would be the best option. While quitting is difficult due to nicotine addiction, cravings and temptations, there are steps to help you succeed in not smoking. Sometimes it takes a few tries to stop smoking completely, but it’s worth the effort to become smoke free.
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