African Americans

Why kidney failure risk 4x higher for blacks

EMORY U. (US) — African Americans are more likely than whites to excrete protein in their urine, a condition that may contribute to a much higher incidence of kidney failure.

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.


“Our large nationwide study brings attention to higher levels of urinary protein excretion as important contributors to the increased incidence of kidney failure experienced by blacks,” says William McClellan, professor of medicine at Emory University.

“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.”

In the research, published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, McClellan and colleagues speculate that several factors may explain why African Americans tend to excrete more protein in their urine, including blood pressure and other heart-related factors, obesity, smoking, vitamin D levels, genetic differences, income, and birth weight.

These factors may act at different times during an individual’s life to affect kidney health.

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