Let's talk about Kidney Stones

What are kidney stones?

Kidney stones are pebble-like masses that form in the kidneys. These stones form when there are high levels of certain minerals in the urine. People with small kidney stones may not experience any symptoms, but larger stones can get stuck in the urinary tract and cause pain or blood in the urine. If not well-managed, serious cases of kidney stones can lead to infections and loss of kidney function. 

Are kidney stones genetic? 

Genetics does play a role in kidney stones. This means some people will be more likely to develop them based on their genetics. Kidney stones are classified into different types based on their mineral makeup and levels of these minerals can become elevated due to genetics and other factors. 

A diagram showing a kidney stone that is present in the ureter between the kidney and the bladder.

What impacts my chances of developing kidney stones? 

It’s estimated that around 10% of the U.S. population has had kidney stones at some point. Besides genetics and family history, other factors can increase your chances of developing them. 

Weight and lifestyle, for example, are factors that can affect the chances of developing kidney stones.  Additionally, your age can increase the possibility, as kidney stones become more common as people get older. Other factors include certain medications or supplements, and health conditions like high blood pressure, gout, and diabetes. Living in a hot climate may also increase your chances, but staying hydrated can help.

Icons labeled age, family history, certain health conditions, certain medications and hot climate. 

Did you know?

Experts agree that one of the best ways to lower the chances of developing kidney stones is to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. In addition, including the right amount of calcium and lots of fruits and vegetables in your diet along with limiting consumption of meat and sodium can also help.

Explore More  

Wondering if you have an increased likelihood of developing kidney stones? You can discover more about the connection between your genes and kidney stones with the 23andMe+ Membership. 23andMe+ includes our Health + Ancestry Service plus 10+ exclusive reports & features throughout the calendar year.

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‡10+ reports and features will be added annually January to December.

Please note:

  • The Kidney Stones report does not diagnose kidney stones and should not be used to make medical decisions.
  • The report was developed by 23andMe scientists using data and insights gathered from thousands of customers who consent to participate in our research. Reports based on 23andMe research provide an estimate of your likelihood of developing a condition based on your genetics and other factors. This report does not account for lifestyle or family history.
  • The report does not account for every possible genetic variant that could affect your likelihood of developing kidney stones.

References 

Chen Z et al. (2019). “Prevalence of kidney stones in the USA: The National Health and Nutrition Evaluation Survey.” J Clinical Urology. 12(4):296-302. 

Ferraro PM et al. (2020). “Risk of Kidney Stones: Influence of Dietary Factors, Dietary Patterns, and Vegetarian-Vegan Diets.” Nutrients. 12(3). 

Fontenelle LF et al. (2019). “Kidney Stones: Treatment and Prevention.” Am Fam Physician. 99(8):490-496. 

Khan SR et al. (2016). “Kidney stones.” Nat Rev Dis Primers. 2:16008. 

Mayo Clinic. “Kidney stones.” Retrieved October 22, 2020, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/kidney-stones/symptoms-causes/syc-20355755. 

National Kidney Foundation. “Kidney Stones.” Retrieved October 22, 2020, from https://www.kidney.org/atoz/content/kidneystones. 

Pearle MS et al. (2014). “Medical management of kidney stones: AUA guideline.” J Urol. 192(2):316-24.