Smoking and kidney disease

Many people know that smoking is bad for a person’s body. Smoking can damage the lungs, heart and just about every other major organ. However, smokers with kidney disease may not have considered how smoking can cause additional problems to their kidneys. One study revealed that men who smoked were three times more likely to have reduced kidney function as compared to male non-smokers. Studies also found that smoking more than a pack per day raised the chance of chronic kidney failure by 51% when compared to non-smokers.  

How smoking damages the kidneys

One of the ways smoking damages kidney function is by affecting the blood flow within the body.  Smoking hardens the arteries and narrows the blood vessels, which can restrict blood flow to the kidneys and cause them to be less efficient.

Smoking also increases blood pressure. If a person has high blood pressure to begin with, smoking only makes it worse. Smokers with high blood pressure can increase their risk of reaching end stage renal disease (ESRD), the final stage of kidney disease.

Diabetes and smoking

People with diabetes who smoke may double or triple their chance of getting kidney disease.  If someone has diabetes and kidney disease, studies show that smoking can reduce kidney function and result in ESRD. People with diabetes who smoke tend to develop kidney problems more quickly and lose kidney function sooner than people with diabetes who do not smoke.

Quitting smoking when a person has kidney disease

There are various ways a person can quit smoking. Here’s a breakdown of ways to quit smoking:   

  • Set a date to start quitting
  • Throw away all tobacco products from your home and/or office
  • Use nicotine replacement therapies recommended by your doctor, such as gum, patches, tablets, inhalers and prescription medicines like Zyban®
  • Have a game plan when you get cravings: call a friend or family member for support, chew gum, suck on hard candy, go online to join a quit-smoking support groups
  • Join a support group for people who want to quit smoking


The evidence is clear that even if a person is in perfect health, smoking is a bad idea. But if a person has kidney problems and chooses to smoke, the chances of developing complications increase. Smoking raises blood pressure and restricts blood flow, which can cause additional problems to already damaged kidneys. Giving up smoking is best for a person with kidney disease. There are many methods and techniques available to smokers who are interested in quitting.

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01/27/2013 12:00 PM

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