Are Men or Women More Susceptible to Kidney Stones?

The National Kidney Foundation (NKF) reports that “one in ten people will have a kidney stone at some time in their lives.” Furthermore, this amount has more than doubled—increasing from 3.8 percent to 8.8 percent—in a 30-year time frame.

The risk of kidney stone development is disproportionately male. Case in point: Whereas approximately 9 percent of women (or roughly one in ten) can expect to develop kidney stones at some time in their lives, for men, this rate jumps to 19 percent (or one in five).

Why do stones tend to be so much prevalent for males?

The NKF explained that while no definitive proof has been offered as to why this discrepancy between the sexes exists, diet could definitely be a contributing factor. This is because men tend to eat more protein and consume more salt than women, and these are two of the main dietary contributors to the creation of kidney stones. There may be some validity to that, because as more and more women following high-protein diets, their rates have risen as a result.

One study published in the Journal of Nephrology & Therapeutics even set out to discover whether demographics of the individual sexes had any impact on stone composition. After studying 14,961 adults, they realized that taller men tended to have calcium oxalate stones, whereas men who were 2 cm shorter had more stones that were made of calcium and phosphate. Additionally, women who had more calcium phosphate stones were roughly 5 years younger than women who had more calcium oxalate stones.

Interestingly, one study published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research further drove home the fact that men develop kidney stones more frequently—and it was conducted on male and female space travelers. After analyzing both groups before, during, and after space missions, researchers found that kidney stone risk was greater for the men both before and after their missions. Yet, during the travel itself, it “was not significantly different.” If the NKF is correct in their assumptions, perhaps it was because they ate the same diet?