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Occupational heat exposure may boost risk of kidney disease: study

Photo: Xurzon/iStockphoto

Eugene, OR — Workers in physically demanding jobs who are exposed to heat may be more susceptible to developing kidney disease, according to the results of a recent study led by a University of Oregon researcher.

After examining an epidemic of heat-related kidney disease among Central American workers with physically demanding occupations, as well as potential related cases in India and Sri Lanka, researchers cited “growing concern” that U.S. workers in similar conditions may be affected by the disease.

Although an analysis of previous studies shows “limited available evidence characterizing occupational heat exposure” in the United States, researchers still found that some workers may be at increased risk of kidney disease resulting from on-the-job heat exposure.

Findings support the prevailing notion that heat stress “induces tubular kidney injury, which is worsened by higher core temperatures, dehydration, longer work durations, muscle-damaging exercise and consumption of beverages containing high levels of fructose,” the researchers write.


In a press release, Chris Chapman, lead study author and postdoctoral researcher at the university’s Bowerman Sports Science Center, said the tendency of some workers to exhibit higher rates of risk factors that may trigger kidney disease – such as obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes – “lead us to think this is something the U.S. should be paying attention to.”

The study was published online July 29 in the journal Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, part of the American Journal of Physiology.

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