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May 22, 2003

Diabetes, Environment Lead to Rise in Kidney Failure

The dramatic increase in diabetes over the past two decades has contributed to an increase in people requiring treatment for kidney disease, according to researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Tulane University. However, other factors contributing to the rise in kidney failure remain unknown. “The Contribution of Increased Diabetes Prevalence and Improved Myocardial Infarction and Stroke Survival to the Increase in Treated End-Stage Renal Disease” appears in the June issue of the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

The team, led by epidemiologist Paul Muntner, PhD, analyzed 20 years of data to understand the rise in numbers of people seeking treatment for kidney failure. The number of new cases of kidney disease requiring treatment has increased from 15,000 in 1978 to 96,000 in 2000. The research was completed while Dr. Muntner was a graduate student at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

“People with diabetes and those who have survived a heart attack and stroke are at higher risk of developing kidney disease that requires treatment. Additionally, the rapid increase in diabetes and more people surviving heart attacks and stroke that has occurred over the past 20 years accounts for 40 percent of the rise in kidney disease cases in the United States,” said Dr. Muntner, assistant professor at the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. “However, it is also true that people now have more access to dialysis and there may be other environmental factors that have led to larger numbers of people seeking care for kidney disease.”

According to Muntner, further investigation into the cause of increased numbers of kidney disease patients could lead to effective ways to prevent the disease and reduce the financial burden.

Data was drawn from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys II and III and the United States Renal Data System.

Josef Coresh, MD, PhD, an associate professor in the Department of Epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and Neil Powe, MD, and Michael Klag, MD, both professors in the Department of Medicine-Internal Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, co-authored the study.

Public Affairs Media Contact for the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health: Kenna Brigham at 410-955-6878 or
Media Contact at Tulane University: Madeline Vann at 504-585-6017 or