Lead exposure increases risk for premature deaths & cardiovascular diseases

Lead exposure increases risk for premature deaths & cardiovascular diseases

"Our study calls into question the assumption that specific toxicants, like lead, have "safe levels", and suggests that low-level environmental lead exposure is a leading risk factor for premature death in the US, particularly from cardiovascular disease", Professor Lanphear added.

Stemming the risk requires a range of public health measures, Lanphear said in a journal news release, such as "abating older housing, phasing out lead-containing jet fuels, replacing lead-plumbing lines and reducing emissions from smelters and lead battery facilities".

"We saw risk down to the lowest measurable levels", said Bruce Lanphear, a lead-poisoning researcher at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia who led the study, according to The Desert Sun. A recent study tells about the health hazards of lead exposure for the people's health.

To reach their findings, the team analyzed the data of 14,289 adults in the USA who were a part of the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

"Our study calls into question the assumption that specific toxicants, like lead, have 'safe levels, ' and suggests that low-level environmental lead exposure is a leading risk factor for premature death in the US, particularly from cardiovascular disease", Lanphear said in a press release.

He said: "The estimated number of deaths from all causes and cardiovascular disease that were attributable to concentrations of lead in blood were surprisingly large; indeed, they were comparable with the number of deaths from current tobacco smoke exposure".

However, they acknowledged the use of a single baseline lead value to predict outcomes over the following 20 years was not ideal; serial measurements may have been more informative. An increase of lead concentration in the participants' blood from 1 µg/dL to 6.7 µg/dL, was linked to ischemic heart disease mortality (HR = 2.08; 95% CI, 1.52-2.85, or 185,000 deaths a year); CVD mortality (HR = 1.7; 95% CI, 1.3-2.22, or 256,000 deaths a year); and all-cause mortality (HR = 1.37; 95% CI, 1.17-1.6). The study lasted for 20 years, and included a round of lead testing right at the start. Rather, he said, it "suggests that low-level environmental lead exposure is a leading risk factor for premature death in the U.S., particularly from cardiovascular disease".

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Tim Chico of the University of Sheffield told the paper: "This study suggests that lead, or factors that increase people's exposure to lead, causes thousands more deaths every year than we previously recognised".

Studies into and policies based on dangers of low-level lead exposure normally focus on children, and the IQ points they stand to lose when too much of the heavy metal reaches their developing brains.

The link held even at low-level exposure to lead.

Additionally, the study took only one reading of lead in participants' blood, when levels were likely to have changed over time.

They were not, however, able to factor out the possible impact of exposure to arsenic or air pollution.

Lanphear and colleagues found that after a median of 19.3 years, 4,422 people died, with 988 deaths due to ischemic heart disease and 1,801 of the deaths due to CVD.

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