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Press Release

January 03, 2006

Oakland, Calif. January 3, 2006 - If you are one of the millions of Americans who are vowing to lose weight in 2006 a new study by researchers at Kaiser Permanente could help offer you some extra incentive. Shedding those extra pounds could reduce your risk of a potentially deadly kidney disease. That’s the findings of a new study in the January 3, 2006 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine.

Investigators at the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland, California and UCSF say being overweight or obese can increase your risk for end-stage renal disease (ERSD) or kidney failure. The disease means the kidneys no longer function normally and patients have to either undergo regular dialysis, or get a kidney transplant.

The study, published in the latest edition of the Annals of Internal Medicine, followed more than 300,000 Kaiser Permanente members over almost 20 years. The researchers found that the greater a person’s body mass index or BMI (the ratio of their weight to their height) the greater their risk for developing end-stage renal disease. In extreme cases obese people can be up to six times more likely to suffer kidney failure than normal weight people. But even just being moderately overweight can double a person’s risk of ESRD.

“In the US, the number of people suffering from ESRD has more than doubled in the past decade” said Division of Research investigator Alan Go, MD, the senior author of the study. “This study shows that being overweight or obese substantially increases the risk for kidney failure and it is possible that losing excess weight might lower that risk.”

Currently more than 400,000 Americans undergo regular kidney dialysis, and more than 20,000 have undergone a kidney transplant. If current trends continue it is estimated that the number of Americans suffering from ESRD will increase to 650,000 by the year 2010.

Study co-authors include Carlos Iribarren, MD, MPH, PhD and Jeanne Darbinian MPH of Kaiser Permanente Division of Research, and Chi-yuan Hsu, MD and Charles McCulloch PhD of UCSF.