Kidney Stones on the Rise in the United States

Posted on September 5th, 2012 by

Roughly 9% of the USpopulation has had a kidney stone, which is a higher estimate than has been reported previously. These results were published in the European Journal of Urology.

Kidney stones are a common and painful problem. Stones develop when substances in the urine become concentrated and form a solid. The most common type of kidney stone contains calcium in combination with other substances. Small stones may be able to pass through the urinary tract on their own, but when stones become large or cause symptoms, treatment may be necessary. 

Kidney stones tend to be more common in whites than in other racial and ethnic groups, and are also more common in people who have a family history of the condition. Underlying health conditions that can contribute to kidney stones include dehydration, urinary tract infections, blockage of the urinary tract, kidney disease, bowel problems, gout, and certain inherited conditions that affect the content of urine.[1] [2] Obesity may also play a role.

To explore whether the frequency of kidney stones has increased over time, researchers evaluated information from a large national health survey (the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey).[3] In 1994, this survey suggested that 6.3% of men and 4.1% of women had had a kidney stone. The current analysis evaluated data from 2007-2010.

  • A history of kidney stones was reported by 8.8% of respondents overall (10.6% of men and 7.1% of women).
  • Kidney stones were reported by 11.2 percent of people who were obese and 6.1% of people with a healthy body weight.

These results suggest that the prevalence of kidney stones has increased over time in theUnited States. Dietary and lifestyle factors may be contributing to the increase. 


[1] National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse. Kidney Stones in Adults. NIH Publication No. 08-2495. October, 2007.

[2] Curhan GC. Epidemiology of stone disease. Urologic Clinics of North America. 2007;34:287-293.

[3] Scales Jr CD, Smith AC, Hanley JM, Saigal CS. Prevalence of kidney stones in the United States. European Journal of Urology. Early online publication March 30, 2012.

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Tags: News, Urology

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