Smoking and chronic kidney disease in healthy populations

Nephrourol Mon. Winter 2013;5(1):655-67. doi: 10.5812/numonthly.3527. Epub 2012 Dec 15.

Abstract

The objective of this review is to explore the link between smoking and the development of chronic kidney disease (CKD) in generally healthy populations without pre-existing renal dysfunction such as diabetic nephropathy. Twenty-eight epidemiological studies concerning the renal effects of smoking in the general population were collected from the MEDLINE database and were reviewed for indications of proteinuria and/or the decline of glomerular filtration rate (GFR), and evaluated on the level of evidence and the quality of the study. Sixteen of the 28 studies were cross-sectional in design. Most articles had some weakness in scope, such as the 6 articles which did not fully exclude DM patients from the subjects, the 4 that did not consider the effects of ex-smoking, and the 3 that focused on only a small number of subjects. From these cases, it is difficult to draw firm conclusions. However, proteinuria or microalbuminuria was persistently high in current smokers; as much as 5-8% or 8-15% respectively, which was up to 2 to 3-times the rate of lifelong non-smokers. On the other hand, only 5 studies broader in scope detected any decline of GFR in smokers, while 9 other studies suggested a higher GFR in smokers than in non-smokers. Two good quality studies showed an even a significantly lower risk of a decreased GFR in smokers. These paradoxical CKD markers in smokers, i.e., a higher appearance of proteinuria with a higher GFR, could be a focus for further studies to reveal the underlying reasons for smoking-induced CKD. Workplaces may be an excellent place to study this subject since the long-term changes in renal function of smokers can be observed by collecting data in the annual health check-ups mandated at places of employment.

Keywords: Glomerular Filtration Rete; Kidney Failure, Chronic; Proteinuria; Smoking.