September 7, 2011

Kidney failure cause impacting minorities detected

Emory researchers have discovered a factor that may contribute to a much higher incidence of kidney failure in African Americans.

African Americans are more likely to excrete protein in their urine than whites, a study in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology led by Emory professor of medicine William M. McClellan, Jr. found.

According to the National Kidney Foundation, kidney failure has a disproportionate impact on minority populations, especially African Americans. The incidence of kidney failure in African Americans is nearly four times greater than in whites.

"Treating urinary protein excretion may help reduce racial disparities related to kidney failure as well as reduce the rate of progression to kidney failure for all individuals," McClellan said.

Investigators speculate that several factors may explain why African Americans tend to excrete more protein in their urine. Blood pressure and other heart-related factors, obesity, smoking, vitamin D levels, genetic differences, income and birth weight are possibilities. These factors may act at different times during an individual's life to affect kidney health.

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