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Urolithiasis. 2013 Apr;41(2):119-27. doi: 10.1007/s00240-013-0544-0. Epub 2013 Feb 6.

Chronic stress and calcium oxalate stone disease: is it a potential recurrence risk factor?

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Department of Urology, Hospital Germans Trias i Pujol, Crta. Canyet s/n, 08916, Badalona Barcelona, Spain.


Chronic emotional stress is associated with increased cortisol release and metabolism disorders. However, few studies have evaluated the influence of chronic stress on calcium oxalate (CaOx) stone disease and its recurrence. A total of 128 patients were enrolled in this case-control study over a period of 20 months. All patients were CaOx stone formers with a recent stone episode (<3 months); 31 were first-time stone formers (FS) and 33 recurrent stone formers (RS). Dimensions of chronic stress were evaluated with self-reported validated questionnaires measuring stressful life events, perceived stress, anxiety, depression, burnout and satisfaction with life. An ad hoc self-reporting questionnaire was designed to evaluate stress-related specifically to stone episodes. Blood and urine samples were collected to determine cortisol levels and urinary composition. In addition, epidemiological data, socioeconomic information, diet and incidences of metabolic syndrome (MS) were reported. Overall, no significant differences were observed in the scores of cases and controls on any of the questionnaires dealing with stress. The number (p < 0.001) and the intensity (p < 0.001) of perceived stressful life events were higher in RS than in FS, but there were no differences between the two groups in other dimensions of stress. RS had higher glucose (p = 0.08), uric acid (p = 0.02), blood cortisol (p = 0.01), and urine calcium levels (p = 0.01) than FS. RS also had lower economic levels (p = 0.02) and more frequent incidences of MS (p = 0.07) than FS. Although no differences were observed in cases and controls among any dimension of chronic stress, the number and intensity of stressful life events were higher in RS than in FS. These differences correlate with variations in blood and urinary levels and with metabolic disorders, indicating an association between chronic stress and risk of recurrent CaOx stone formation.

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