Lead Levels May Predict Hypertension Risk
A few weeks ago an article was reviewed suggesting a possible link between lead and cognitive decline in the elderly. While I am strongly against the “one cause, one cure” philosophy, it is be possible that heavy metals may be a major contributor to the decline of our health with age. Avoiding heavy metal intake (drinking water, amalgam fillings, processed foods, polluted air, poor quality supplements…) and chelating out the metals already present in our body are smart routes to take.
Am J Epidemiol 2001;153:164-171 New study findings strengthen the hypothesis that cumulative exposure to lead is associated with an increased risk of hypertension. Dr. Howard Hu of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and colleagues conducted a substudy of the Normative Aging Study to determine the relationship between lead exposure and hypertension. The cohort included 337 men with normal blood pressure, 182 with borderline hypertension and 314 with definite hypertension. The risk of hypertension was associated with bone lead levels, but not blood lead levels, Dr. Cheng’s group reports. Of the 519 participants who did not have hypertension at baseline, 474 of whom returned for at least one follow-up visit, 74 developed hypertension between 1991 and 1997. In a proportional hazards model that adjusted for age, age squared, body mass index and family history of hypertension, the rate ratio was 1.49 for an increase in tibia lead levels from the midpoint of the bottom quintile to the midpoint of the top quintile, according to the report. For patella lead levels, the corresponding rate ratio was 1.71. After controlling for baseline systolic pressure, Dr. Cheng’s team found that the increased risk associated with lead levels persisted. “In the present study, bone lead, but not blood lead, was associated with an increased incidence of hypertension, suggesting that the hypertensive effect of lead is more likely to be a chronic than an acute phenomenon,” the researchers speculate. They note that if the association is proved to be causal, it may have a major effect on public health, since “rapid industrialization and the continued use of leaded gasoline appear to be increasing lead exposure throughout the developing world.”