Lifetime Risk of Developing Kidney Failure

Author: American Society of Nephrology
Published: 2012/08/18 - Updated: 2022/02/18
Peer-Reviewed: N/A
Contents: Summary - Main - Related Publications

Synopsis: Study reveals how likely middle aged adults are to develop kidney failure during their lifetime. Kidney failure takes a significant toll on both individuals and the public as a whole, causing poor health in patients and generating considerable health care costs. Approximately 1 in 40 men and 1 in 60 women of middle age will develop kidney failure if they live into their 90s. This equates to a 2.66% risk of kidney failure for men and a 1.76% risk for women. The risk is higher in people with reduced kidney function compared with people with relatively preserved kidney function. The lifetime risk of kidney failure is consistently higher for men at all ages and kidney function levels, compared with women.

Main Digest

The kidneys are bean-shaped organs, each about the size of a fist. They are located near the middle of the back, just below the rib cage, one on each side of the spine. The kidneys are sophisticated reprocessing machines. Every day, a person's kidneys process about 200 quarts of blood to sift out about 2 quarts of waste products and extra water. The wastes and extra water become urine, which flows to the bladder through tubes called ureters. The bladder stores urine until releasing it through urination.

What's your lifetime risk of developing kidney failure?

New study reveals the answer for middle-aged adults...

Continued below image.
Diagram depicts location of human kidneys in the female and male bodies.
Diagram depicts location of human kidneys in the female and male bodies.


A study appearing in an upcoming issue of the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (JASN) provides some insights, which may be used to help set priorities related to kidney care and to increase public interest in the prevention of kidney disease.

Kidney failure takes a significant toll on both individuals and the public as a whole, causing poor health in patients and generating considerable health care costs. Despite kidney failure's impact, researchers don't have a good estimate of people's likelihood of developing it over their lifetime.

To find out, from 1997 to 2008 Tanvir Chowdhury Turin, MD, PhD, Brenda Hemmelgarn, MD, PhD (University of Calgary, in Alberta, Canada), and their colleagues studied 2,895,521 adult Alberta residents who were free of kidney failure at the start of the study.

"Given the high morbidity and cost associated with kidney failure, we wanted to quantify the burden of disease for kidney failure in an easily understandable index to communicate information for patients, health practitioners, and policy makers," said Dr. Turin.

Among the Major Findings

The authors note that the actual current life expectancy is approximately 80 years, which changes the risks somewhat.

"The observed probabilities indicate that, if the current estimates remains unchanged, approximately 1 in 93 (or approximately 1%) of men and 1 in 133 (or 0.8%) of women of middle age might develop kidney failure in their lifetime in Alberta, Canada," said Dr. Hemmelgarn.

Study Authors

Study co-authors include Marcello Tonelli, MD, (University of Alberta, in Alberta, Canada); Braden Manns, MD, Sofia Ahmed, MD, Matthew James, MD, PhD, and Pietro Ravani, MD, PhD (University of Calgary, in Alberta, Canada). The authors reported no financial disclosures. The article, entitled "Lifetime Risk of End-Stage Renal Disease ," appears online, doi: 10.1681/ASN.2012020164.


This quality-reviewed publication pertaining to our Kidney Cancer section was selected for circulation by the editors of Disabled World due to its likely interest to our disability community readers. Though the content may have been edited for style, clarity, or length, the article "Lifetime Risk of Developing Kidney Failure" was originally written by American Society of Nephrology, and submitted for publishing on 2012/08/18 (Edit Update: 2022/02/18). Should you require further information or clarification, American Society of Nephrology can be contacted at Disabled World makes no warranties or representations in connection therewith.

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