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How can smoking affect your kidneys and what can you do about it? Expert explains

Individuals must understand the severe impact smoking can have on their kidney health and make efforts to quit smoking or avoid picking up the habit altogether.

Written By : Health Desk Edited By : Kristina Das
New Delhi
Published on: April 18, 2024 11:28 IST
smoking and kidney health
Image Source : FILE IMAGE Know the impact of smoking on kidney health.

Smoking is the most prevalent preventable cause of death. However, its detrimental impact on kidney health is often underestimated. It has been proven to have detrimental effects on kidney health. The chemicals found in cigarettes, such as nicotine and carbon monoxide, can lead to a decrease in blood flow to the kidneys, resulting in reduced kidney function. This damage can cause an increased risk of developing chronic kidney disease, which is a long-term condition that can lead to kidney failure. Smoking also increases the risk of developing kidney cancer, as the toxins in cigarettes can damage the kidneys' cells and DNA. 

As a urologist, it is imperative to shed light on the profound consequences that smoking can have on the kidneys. Thus, according to Dr Tejas Mistry, Consultant Urologist, Andrologist & Kidney Transplant Surgeon, at Bhailal Amin General Hospital, Vadodara, one of the most concerning risks associated with smoking is the heightened likelihood of developing kidney and bladder cancer. Tobacco contains more than 7000 compounds. Out of these, compounds such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and nitrosamine damage the delicate tissues, paving the way for cancer transformation. In the initial stages of cancer, the organ can be saved by removing the cancerous portion; however, it may need kidney or bladder removal in advanced stages. 

Smoking leads to narrowed blood vessels and reduced blood flow to vital organs. This impairs the kidneys' ability to filter waste products and maintain balance. Consequently, smokers are more susceptible to experiencing diminished kidney function. Later on, such patients require kidney transplants or lifelong dialysis.

Moreover, the effects of smoking multiplicate with other risk factors for kidney disease, such as hypertension and diabetes. It’s important to note that chewing tobacco or passive smoking has equally deleterious effects on kidney health and can cause cancer.

Smoking cessation is possible with safe medications, nicotine replacement therapy and motivation. By raising awareness and advocating for preventative measures, we can strive towards a future where kidney health is prioritized and protected from the harmful effects of smoking.

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