Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Don't laugh: Global warming is going to increase kidney stones

The "reasoning" below is that kidney stones are more prevalent in warmer areas of the USA and that they are therefore caused by warmth. That's just epidemiological speculation, however. People in some warmer parts of the USA do get more kidney stones but is that BECAUSE OF the warmth? Bacteria are being increasingly implicated in kidney stone formation so it could (for instance) be due to differing prevalence of bacteria in the areas concerned. Note also that kidney stone prevalence is high in the Great Lakes area, which is not exactly the warmest part of the USA

More Americans are likely to suffer from kidney stones in the coming years as a result of global warming, according to researchers at the University of Texas.

Kidney stones, which are formed from dissolved minerals in the urine and can be extremely painful, are often caused by caused by dehydration, either by not drinking enough liquid or losing too much due to high heat conditions. If global warming trends continue as projected by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2007, the United States can expect as much as a 30 percent growth in kidney stone disease in some of its driest areas, said the findings published in Monday's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The increased incidence of disease would represent between 1.6 million and 2.2 million cases by 2050, costing the US economy as much as one billion dollars in treatment costs.

"This study is one of the first examples of global warming causing a direct medical consequence for humans," said Margaret Pearle, professor of urology at University of Texas Southwestern and senior author of the paper. "When people relocate from areas of moderate temperature to areas with warmer climates, a rapid increase in stone risk has been observed. This has been shown in military deployments to the Middle East for instance."

The lead author of the research, Tom Brikowski, compared kidney stone rates with UN forecasts of temperature increases and created two mathematical models to predict the impact on future populations. One formula showed an increase in the southern half of the country, including the already existing "kidney stone belt" of the southeastern states of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.

The other showed that the increase would be concentrated in the upper Midwest. "Similar climate-related changes in the prevalence of kidney-stone disease can be expected in other stone belts worldwide," the study said.


Jewish obesity under attack in Australia

Having seen the snacking ladies at Rose Bay, I think I know what this is all about

Kosher food can stack on the kilos. So says the rabbi who has launched a diet challenge to Australian Jews: lose 1000 kilograms in 12 weeks. Rabbi Mendel Kastel is publishing a diet online this month that comes with kosher recipes, a kosher conversion guide, personalised menus, exercise plans and tools to set goals and track weight. "Bagels, chopped liver, matzo balls, schmaltz herrings - there are things in a kosher diet that make us put on weight," he said. "Rather than a white bagel, try a wholemeal one."

As head of the Rabbinical Council of NSW, Rabbi Kastel has sent a message out to rabbis across Australia to challenge their communities. Corporate sponsorship in the form of a dollar for every kilogram lost will be directed to the Jewish House, a crisis housing agency. "We aim to lose about a kilo a week. So we're looking for 100 people to lose 10 kilos each. And the more, the better," he said.

Rabbi Kastel said he did not know if Jews were fatter than other Australians, but he said they needed to be aware of the importance of eating well, drinking moderately and getting regular exercise. The rabbi has been road-testing the program for the past five weeks and said he has shed six kilograms. "Just 20 kilograms to go."

Under Jewish law people should eat only kosher food. Meat, for instance, must come only from animals that chew the cud and have cloven hoofs, such as cows. And they must be killed in a particular way, removing as much blood as possible.


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