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Smoking and Kidney Stones

Smoking & Your Kidney Health

Smoking is injurious to our health. This alert message is often ignored by most smokers deliberately. On the eve of World Kidney Day falling on 14 March, it is imperative to reiterate the ill- effects of smoking, especially on the kidneys.

Smoking has a direct and disastrous effect on renal health. One of the chronic kidney disease causes is smoking. Renal cancer  and kidney stones are also caused by incessant inhalation of tobacco smoke.

It is important to understand the extensive damage caused by smoking on kidney health. This will help us to enforce a restriction of smoking in our family and in our environment.

Effect of smoking on kidney health

Smoking causes irreparable damage to the kidneys in many ways like these

  • Smoking promotes kidney fibrosis leading to declining kidney health
  • Hardening and thickening of the arterial walls of the kidneys results from smoking
  • Smoking has a negative effect on several fibrogenesis processes of the kidneys like endothelial function, oxidative stress etc.
  • Even lipoprotein metabolism and insulin resistance are impaired by smoking
  • The nicotine in the cigarette has vasoconstrictive properties and it affects the glomerular filtration rate of the kidneys
  • Renal blood flow is also restricted by smoking
  • Smokers have more protein in their urine than smokers
  • Since insulin resistance is impaired by smoking, smokers are more at risk from diabetes-related kidney damage and progress rapidly towards total kidney failure
  • Smokers are twice at risk from kidney cancer than non-smokers.

With such potent dangers to the kidneys, smoking is lethal to the kidneys and must best be avoided.

Smoking is one of the prime chronic kidney disease causes

  • Chronic kidney disease causes irreversible damage to the kidneys leading to end-stage kidney disease or failure. Smoking is one of the proven causes of chronic kidney disease.
  • For every 5 cigarettes per day, there is a known increase in serum creatinine. Continued smoking results in a decline in the glomerular filtration rate. Both these accelerate the stages of chronic kidney disease resulting in kidney failure.
  • In a study of 9270 patients with chronic kidney disease, regular smokers had a 48% risk of death from all causes. They had a 36℅ risk of arteriosclerosis and 37℅ risks of cancer.
  • This clearly established the fact that smoking escalated the effects of chronic kidney disease. Cessation of smoking brought significant relief to chronic kidney disease patient.

Smoking and kidney stones

Cigarette smokers have large deposits of heavy elements and trace elements like lead and cadmium in their blood due to smoking. This drastically reduces the glomerular filtration rate in the kidneys leading to nephrolithiasis or the formation of kidney stones.

Smokers have twice the risk of formation of kidney stones  than others. This is because smoking decreases the flow of urine and increases serum cadmium in smokers, both of which cause stones to be formed in the kidney due to the following reasons.

  • Smoking increases the level of arginine vasopressin in the plasma. This arginine vasopressin has a strong antidiuretic effect, decreasing the flow of urine. Low flow of urine is the main cause of the formation of kidney stones.
  • Smoking also increases the oxidative stress in the kidney, leading to renal injury. This causes aggregation of crystals forming kidney stones.

Kidney cancer symptoms

Smokers have a 50% more risk of kidney cancer than others and exhibit Kidney cancer symptoms like these below.

  • Blood in the urine
  • Swelling in the arms and legs
  • A lump in your abdomen or side of the body
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Anaemia
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever and fatigue

Men are at more risk from kidney cancer than women. Smoking cigars are doubly dangerous than smoking cigarettes and this doubles kidney cancer symptoms and risks.

Quitting smoking is the first priority in preserving your kidney health as it helps in the following ways

  • Arrests the decline in kidney function
  • Reduces the risk of kidney cancer
  • Slows down diabetes-related kidney disease
  • Reduces smoking-induced peripheral neuropathy.

Smoking causes the greatest hazard to kidneys. It is harmful to both active and passive smokers.

On this No Smoking Day falling on the Second Wednesday of March, let us all take a solemn pledge to say “ no “ to smoking in our neighbourhood and community.





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