Study shows riding roller coasters could cure kidney stones

DUARTE, Calif. -- It's hair-raising research as scientists say riding a roller coaster might be a cure for kidney stones.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is a runaway mine train adventure, but for kidney stone sufferers like Grace Wu, it could be good medicine.

Michigan State University researchers decided to test their theory after patients reported their kidney stones passed painlessly after riding Big Thunder Mountain at Walt Disney World, which is similar to the ride at Disneyland.

Scientists created 3D printed models and planted kidney stones of varying sizes. Then, the silicone kidneys went for a ride.

The results? Even the largest stones got dislodged after two or three rides. Also, riding in the back was more effective than sitting up front.

City of Hope urologist Dr. Clayton Lau said you need more than turbulent motion to pass kidney stones, but added adrenaline may cause movement in the ureter that helps propel the stones.

Lau said all that jostling in the back seat of a rollercoaster may loosen the stone out of the kidney but that's only part of the journey. The ureter is 30 centimeters long.

MSU Researchers said in their models, the stones did pass all the way out. They even suggest riding moderate-intensity roller coasters might be good preventive therapy for people prone to kidney stones.

Lau said while its rip-roaring research, he's not ready to recommend thrill-ride therapy.

"I think that's the last thing you want to do when you're in pain is jump on a roller coaster," he said.

Wu agrees, but loves the idea.

"Probably I'll do more of the conservative route, what my physicians say," she said. "But if he thinks me riding a roller coaster, here I come."

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