Why is chronic kidney disease more likely some countries?

New research suggests that a combination of high heat, toxins, and infections may be responsible for the increasing prevalence of chronic kidney disease among agricultural workers.

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News Desk |

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) involves the slow loss of kidney function. Kidneys keep the body healthy by filtering dangerous fluids and waste products from the blood. When kidney function is impaired, these products build up in the body and cause disease. People with CKD may develop high blood pressure, anemia, weak bones, and nerve damage. Also, kidney failure increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. These complications may happen slowly over a long period.


Causes of CKD include diabetes and high blood pressure, which are responsible for up to two-thirds of the cases. Early diagnosis and treatment can prevent many complications. High blood pressure may cause CKD, which, in turn, may lead to high blood pressure.

The researchers believe that high temperatures, caused by climate change, and pesticides, such as glyphosate, could play a role in this chronic disease “epidemic”.

According to the National Kidney Foundation, 30 million adults in the United States live with CKD, and millions of others are at risk. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for all people with this disease.

Recently, CKD has been prevalent among workers in hot climates. In the 1990s, the disease affected sugarcane workers in Central America. In 2012, 20,000 people in California, Florida, and Colorado died from the disease, but the cause remained unknown.

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Researchers from the University of Colorado Anschutz (CU Anschutz) Medical Campus looked at all the available studies to consolidate the information and find potential gaps in research. The results of the study appear in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The research team found that agricultural workers, such as those who worked with sugarcane, cotton, and corn, as well as shrimp farmers and miners, are more likely to develop the disease compared with those who work at higher altitudes.

Read more: ‘Healthy obesity’ – not so healthy for the heart

The researchers believe that high temperatures, caused by climate change, and pesticides, such as glyphosate, could play a role in this chronic disease “epidemic”. “When clinicians detect clusters of patients with chronic kidney disease who work for the same employer or in similar jobs,” the authors said, “they should contact occupational health, safety, and public health professionals to promote investigations of workplace conditions.”


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