Does Global Warming Mean More Kidney Stones?

The U.S. "kidney stone belt" could expand, affecting 2.25 million more Americans.

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Al Gore is going to love this one. A new study, released yesterday, suggests that it's not just polar bears, ice caps, and farmers who ought to be on edge about global warming. Rising temperatures may leave Americans with a deluge of kidney stones as well.

That might sound like voodoo scare science, but it's actually well accepted that kidney stone formation accelerates in warm climates. Sweating removes fluid from the body, which increases the salt concentration of the urine and the rate at which stones develop.

The authors predict that by 2050, kidney stones will cause an additional 1.6 million to 2.2 million kidney-stone cases, representing an increase of up to 30 percent in some areas of the country. Also, as temperatures rise, the "kidney stone belt" will expand beyond the Southeast into higher latitudes. And men—who are about twice as likely as women to develop kidney stones—will probably bear the brunt of the change. Me, I'd prefer to never have to grapple with a kidney stone—global warming or not. With that in mind, I checked up on steps that men can take to prevent or slow the stone's development. Fortunately, there's actually quite a bit men can do. Here are five simple tips.

I'll be eagerly anticipating the study that looks at whether climate change is causing a rash of kidney stones among polar bears, too.