April 2, 2009

Lead linked to upped risk of heart disease

Lead concentrations in blood are associated with an increased risk of death from coronary heart diseases, researchers said after a study of 533 U.S. women.

The study, published in the journal Environmental Health, showed that those with blood lead concentrations above 8ÃŽ¼g/dL were three times more likely than others to die of coronary heart disease.

Naila Khalil worked with a team of researchers from the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Maryland to study the effects of lead on the mortality of a group of women ages 65-87 who had joined an earlier study between 1986 and1988.

Despite population-wide declines in blood lead concentrations during the past 30 years, environmental lead exposure continues to be a public health concern, Khalil said in a statement. Lead is a toxic metal, and our results add to the existing evidence of adverse affects of lead on health as seen in an older cohort who experienced greater historic environmental lead exposure.

The average population blood lead concentration declined to 1.45ÃŽ¼g/dL. However, the women studied were alive while lead was still used in paints, water systems and as a gasoline additive and had an average blood concentration of 5.3ÃŽ¼g/dL to 21ÃŽ¼g/dL.

Women with a blood lead concentration above 8ÃŽ¼g/dL had a 73 percent increased risk of dying and blood lead was associated with almost three-fold risk in coronary heart diseases mortality, Khalil said.