Smoking has been known to increase the risk of kidney disease in people with diabetes. Now, a study shows that smoking may lead to potentially dangerous changes in kidney function even in otherwise healthy people. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smoking harms nearly every organ of the body. Therefore, it is not surprising to learn that smoking also plays a role in the progression of chronic kidney disease (CKD). According to the Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial (MRFIT), smoking is one of the leading risk factors that can lead to end stage renal disease (ESRD).
Some of the possible ways smoking is thought to harm kidneys are by:
- Increasing blood pressure and heart rate
- Reducing blood flow in the kidneys
- Increasing production of angiotensin II (a hormone produced in kidney)
- Narrowing the blood vessels in the kidneys
- Damaging arterioles (branches of arteries)
- Forming arteriosclerosis (thickening and hardening) of the renal (kidney) arteries
- Accelerating loss of kidney function
In addition to tobacco, smoking allows other toxins into the body. According to the American Association of Kidney Patients (AAKP), studies have shown that smoking is harmful for the kidneys, and can cause kidney disease to progress and increases the risk for proteinuria (excessive amount of protein in the urine).
Diabetes, high blood pressure and chronic kidney disease
Diabetes and high blood pressure are the two leading causes of chronic kidney disease. Studies have been done on people with diabetes and/or high blood pressure to find out if smoking adds to the risk of getting chronic kidney disease. In both groups smoking increased the chances of getting renal disease. Smoking also made kidney disease occur at a faster rate. Stopping smoking was shown to be one of the most important things a person could do to help maintain kidney function.
Heart disease and smoking
Smoking causes heart disease. Kidney failure and dialysis also increase risks for heart disease. For chronic kidney disease patients who smoke, stopping may be the one most important thing they can do to slow the progression of both kidney and heart failure.
For people who have had a kidney transplant and not stopped smoking, their chances of survival decrease due to the risk of cardiovascular problems. The best way to a successful transplant outcome is to stop smoking.
Smoking even hurts healthy kidneys
According to information from the Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial, men in the general population, who don’t have kidney disease, are at an increased risk for getting end stage renal disease if they are smokers. The risk gets even higher for heavy smokers. Cigarette smoking has been called the most preventable risk factor for maintaining good health. Studies show that in addition to heart disease, cancer and the other diseases attributed to smoking, it has also contributed to renal failure among those who were not kidney disease patients.
Tips to stop smoking
Since the number of cigarettes smoked tend to increase the risks for end stage renal failure, cutting down may be helpful. Ideally, however, quitting would be the best option. While quitting is difficult due to nicotine addiction, cravings and temptations, there are steps to help you succeed in not smoking. Sometimes it takes a few tries to stop smoking completely, but it’s worth the effort to become smoke free.
- Give yourself a quit date and throw out all tobacco products.
- Have a strategy for helping you overcome cravings, such as:
- Chew gum, suck on hard candy, nibble on low-calorie snacks throughout the day or make your meals last longer.
- Talk to friends and family members for support.
- Try deep breathing or meditation until the urge passes.
- Keep trying until you quit.