Study: Racism May Be Leading to Greater Kidney Failure in Blacks

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high-blood-pressure-checkThe stress associated with feeling discriminated against could be having a negative effect on the health of Blacks, specifically on the kidneys, according to a new study.

According to Time.com, a team of researchers, co-led by Diedra C. Crews, assistant professor of medicine and chair of the diversity council at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, studied 1,574 residents of Baltimore for the Healthy Aging in Neighborhoods of Diversity across the Life Span study. They found that 20 percent of their subjects felt that they had been racially discriminated against “a lot.”

After the researchers adjusted the results for race, that particular group had higher systolic blood pressure than those who perceived only a little discrimination.

The release of stress hormones can lead to increased blood pressure, which is one of the leading causes of kidney disease. Diabetes and high blood pressure are the leading causes of kidney failure and are highly prevalent among Blacks.

Blacks were likely to have diabetes more than whites and over 42 percent of Black adults have high blood pressure, according to the American Kidney Fund. The CDC ranks heart disease, diabetes and kidney failures among the top 10 leading causes of death for Blacks.

The five-year followup revealed that the group that felt more racial discrimination also showed greater decline in kidney function. Adjusting the results for age and lifestyle found that the effect remained constant for Black women.

“Psychosocial stressors could potentially have an effect on kidney function decline through a number of hormonal pathways,” Dr. Crews told Time.

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