Cigarette smoking is considered a universal health hazard, but it may be particularly damaging to kidney function among African-Americans smokers, according to new research in Journal of the American Heart Association. Michael Hall, M.D., lead author of the study, says that “cardiovascular and kidney diseases are closely linked, but few people are aware of the impact of smoking on these conditions.” The researchers determined rates of decline in kidney function in more than 3,600 African-Americans ages 21 to 84 in the Jackson, Mississippi,
area. They discovered that compared to those who had never smoked the incidence of decline in kidney function was 83% higher overall in current smokers, and the rate of kidney function decline worsened with more smoking. Those who smoked up to 19 cigarettes a day had a 75% greater incidence of decline in kidney function, while those who smoked 20 or more cigarettes a day had a 97% incidence of decline in kidney function. They also found current smokers had 38% higher inflammation levels than non-smokers, which suggests a possible mechanism between smoking and kidney function decline. African-Americans are disproportionately affected by chronic kidney disease, and may be more susceptible to adverse effects of smoking
to the kidneys. Yet little data exists examining the effects
of smoking and kidney disease for African Americans. Researchers note that menthol-flavored cigarettes, considered popular among African-American smokers, have been associated with increased concentrations of blood cadmium – a toxic metal used in protective coatings. Exposure to low levels of the metal has been linked to kidney damage. Hall says that smokers with high risk factors for kidney disease should be encouraged to quit, and that continued smoking could ultimately lead to dialysis. He added that once you have kidney disease, it also increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases.