Bad smoke also affects kidney function

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In previous articles of the Best Doctors Blog we talked about smoking and its link to diseases or risks, of which we are all aware. In this new entry we will put the focus on health problems related to tobacco, which perhaps we may fail to take into consideration: the negative effects of tobacco in the functioning of our kidneys.

According to a study by the research team at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center in Baltimore (USA), smoking has a direct impact on kidney function of American teenagers.

The research was conducted on a total of 7,516 adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17. A sufficiently representative sample has been analysed in order to demostrate the harmful effects of tobacco both in smokers and passive smokers.

Direct effects on glomerular filtration rate (GFR)

The study concludes that adolescent smokers or those exposed to tobacco smoke as passive smokers have lower levels in their glomerular filtration rates (GFR). This is a rate that measures the volume of fluid filtered per minute from the capillaries (also called glomerulus) to Bowman’s capsule as well as determining the proper functioning of the kidneys: the higher the GFR rate, the better the kidney function.

Bad smoke, bad data

According to data from the WHO:

– Smoking kills 6 million people every year
– 80% of tobacco-related deaths take place in the developed world
– Over 40% of the world´s population live in countries where it is permitted to include terms like “Light” which do not entail a reduction in the health risk of tobacco.

Alarming data which do not give us breathing space if we focus on the teenage years. According to studies carried out in U.S., more than 3 million high school students are regular smokers, while 15% of nonsmoking adolescents become passive smokers at home as a result of having a smoker in their family.

In adolescence, smoking is associated with:

– Increased risk of asthma
– Decreased respiratory function and effects on normal lung development
– Increased risk of cancer including higher probability of death during adulthood
– Additionally, it is also a risk factor for some autoimmune pathologies such as Crohn’s disease.

We must remember that the effects of smoking on the body are particularly serious if the patient starts smoking very early during adolescence and continues smoking for years or decades.

Therefore, as health professionals, our duty is to recommend that smokers kick the habit. Health is a commitment shared by all, and good health, in particular, is the fundamental objective of all of us at Best Doctors.