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What Happens to Your Kidneys as You Age?

FRIDAY, June 12, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Kidney function declines naturally with age, even if a person is in good health, a new European study says.

Researchers assessed nearly 3,000 people in Norway, Germany and Iceland, age 50 and older, in order to learn more about how kidney function changes with age.

"What happens in our kidneys when we age is representative of all the other things that happen in our bodies. The kidney function deteriorates, not because we get ill, but as part of aging," said lead author Bjørn Odvar Eriksen, leader of the Metabolic and Renal Research Group at the University of Tromsø (UiT)–The Arctic University of Norway.

Because loss of kidney function happens to everyone, Eriksen said it is an ideal way to determine aging in general.

"There is still variation as to how quickly this happens, and we still do not have good answers as to why this variation occurs. We have examined many factors that can play a part as to why some of us experience larger loss of kidney function than others," Eriksen said in a university news release.

More than 1,600 kidney-study participants are part of the Tromsø Study -- Norway's most comprehensive population study. They were examined between 2007 and 2009, again between 2013 and 2015, and finally, between 2018 and 2020.

The researchers measured function by injecting a substance that only separates in the kidneys into participants' bloodstream, waiting a few hours, and then testing how much of the substance remained in the blood.

Eriksen noted that more people may experience loss of kidney function as survival rates improve for illnesses like cancer and heart disease.

"For those who experience loss of kidney function at a high age, this is a considerable burden. That is why this is an area that needs further research to find more answers. We are still looking for the fountain of youth," Eriksen said.

The study was published in the June issue of the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases explains how to keep your kidneys healthy.

SOURCE: UiT-The Arctic University of Norway, news release, June 9, 2020

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