Body size and risk of kidney stones

J Am Soc Nephrol. 1998 Sep;9(9):1645-52.


A variety of factors influence the formation of calcium oxalate kidney stones, including gender, diet, and urinary excretion of calcium, oxalate, and uric acid. Several of these factors may be related to body size. Because men on average have a larger body size and a threefold higher lifetime risk of stone formation than women, body size may be an important risk factor for calcium oxalate stone formation. The association between body size (height, weight, and body mass index) and the risk of kidney stone formation was studied in two large cohorts: the Nurses' Health Study (NHS; n = 89,376 women) and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (HPFS; n = 51,529 men). Information on body size, kidney stone formation, and other exposures of interest was obtained by mailed questionnaires. A total of 1078 incident cases of kidney stones in NHS during 14 yr of follow-up and a total of 956 cases in HPFS during 8 yr of follow-up were confirmed. In both cohorts, the prevalence of a stone disease history and the incidence of stone disease were directly associated with weight and body mass index. However, the magnitude of the associations was consistently greater among women. Specifically, the age-adjusted prevalence odds ratio for women with body mass index > or = 32 kg/m2 compared with 21 to 22.9 kg/m2 was 1.76 (95% confidence interval, 1.50 to 2.07), but 1.38 (95% confidence interval, 1.16 to 1.65) for the same comparison in men. For incident stone formation, the multivariate relative risks for the similar comparisons were 1.89 (1.51 to 2.36) for women and 1.19 (0.83 to 1.70) in men. Height was inversely associated with the prevalence of stone disease but was not associated with incident stone formation. These results suggest that body size is associated with the risk of stone formation and that the magnitude of risk varies by gender. Additional studies are necessary to determine whether a reduction in body weight decreases the risk of stone formation, particularly in women.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Body Height
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Body Weight
  • Calcium Oxalate / chemistry
  • Cohort Studies
  • Data Collection
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Kidney Calculi / chemistry
  • Kidney Calculi / epidemiology*
  • Kidney Calculi / etiology
  • Male
  • Massachusetts / epidemiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Distribution


  • Calcium Oxalate