Marathon running may lead to kidney injury, study finds

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In a recent study from Yale University, researchers found the physical stress of running a marathon can cause short-term kidney injury.

Although kidneys of the examined runners fully recovered within two days post-marathon, the study raises questions concerning potential long-term impacts of this strenuous activity at a time when marathons are increasing in popularity.

More than a half-million people participated in marathons in the United States in 2015.

While past research has shown that engaging in unusually vigorous activities — such as mine work, harvesting sugarcane, and military training — in warm climates can damage the kidneys, little is known about the effects of marathon running on kidney health.

In the study, the team studied a small group of participants in the Hartford Marathon. The team collected blood and urine samples before and after the 26.2-mile event.

They analyzed a variety of markers of kidney injury, including serum creatinine levels, kidney cells on microscopy, and proteins in urine.

The researchers found that 82% of the runners that were studied showed Stage 1 Acute Kidney Injury (AKI) soon after the race. AKI is a condition in which the kidneys fail to filter waste from the blood.

The kidney responds to the physical stress of marathon running as if it’s injured, in a way that’s similar to what happens in hospitalized patients when the kidney is affected by medical and surgical complications.

The researchers say that potential causes of the marathon-related kidney damage could be the sustained rise in core body temperature, dehydration, or decreased blood flow to the kidneys that occur during a marathon.

While the measured kidney injury resolved within two days post-marathon, the study still raises questions about the effects of repeated strenuous activity over time, especially in warm climates.

If you care about kidney health, please read studies about this sleep pill can prevent kidney damage in obesity with diabetes and findings of reduced kidney function may increase dementia risk.

For more information about kidney diseases, please see recent studies about these common vegetables may reduce kidney damage caused by diabetes and results showing that new high blood pressure guideline could help reduce kidney disease.

The study is published in the American Journal of Kidney Diseases. One author of the study is Professor of Medicine Chirag Parikh, M.D.

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