Posted on Sep 06, 2018, 9 p.m.
Exposure to environmental toxic metals such as cadmium, arsenic, lead, mercury, and copper are a health concern around the globe that are linked to increased risk of cardiovascular disease and coronary health disease, as published in the journal BMJ.
Carcinogens such as cadmium and arsenic are well known, studies suggest exposure to toxic metal may be additional independent risk factors for CVD; to investigate researchers from the University of Cambridge reviewed and analysed results from epidemiological studies investigating associations of lead, arsenic, mercury, copper, and cadmium with stroke, composite cardiovascular disease, and coronary heart disease.
37 separate studies were identified involving close to 350,000 subjects with 15,274 cardiovascular, 13,033 coronary heart disease, and 4,205 stroke outcomes being reported across all of the studies. Each study was designed differently and of varying quality which were taken into consideration and allowed for in analysis.
Arsenic exposure was associated with 23% increased risk of coronary heart disease, and 30% greater risk of composite cardiovascular disease, no evidence was found of association to stroke. Copper and cadmium exposure was associated with 63% increased risk for heart disease and cardiovascular disease, lead and cadmium were associated with 72% increased risk of stroke. Mercury was not associated with cardiovascular risks by this study.
It was noted that this review was based on observational data that might be affected by unmeasured factors which makes it difficult to make firm conclusions regarding cause and effect. Regardless the researchers suggest their findings reinforce importance of environmental toxic metals increasing cardiovascular risks beyond that of conventional behavioural risk factors, highlighting need for additional global strategies and efforts to reduce exposures in even relatively lower average levels of exposure.
Researchers concluded that even at low levels metals are associated with increased risk for CVD, and population wide strategies to minimize exposure may contribute to overall cardiovascular prevention efforts.
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