In a recent study, researchers find exposure to lead, copper, cadmium and arsenic is linked to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease.
Recently, exposure to environmental toxic metals such as arsenic, lead, copper, and mercury have become a major global health concern.
Arsenic and cadmium, for example, are known carcinogens, but more evidence has shown that exposure to toxic metals may lead to cardiovascular disease independently.
In the current study, the researchers reviewed the results of epidemiological studies that had looked at the association of arsenic, lead, copper, cadmium, and mercury with coronary heart disease, stroke and composite cardiovascular disease.
They analyzed 37 separate studies published before December 2017 involving almost 350,000 participants.
A total of 13,033 coronary heart disease, 4,205 stroke and 15,274 cardiovascular outcomes were reported across the studies.
The team found that exposure to arsenic was linked to a 23% greater risk of coronary heart disease and a 30% greater risk of composite cardiovascular disease.
There was no evidence of an association with risk of stroke.
In addition, exposure to cadmium and copper was linked to increased risks of coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease.
Exposure to lead and cadmium was linked to an increased risk of stroke.
In contrast, mercury was not found to be associated with cardiovascular risk.
The researchers point out that their review was solely based on observational data, making it difficult to draw firm conclusions about cause and effect.
But they also believe their findings reinforce the importance of environmental toxic metals in enhancing global cardiovascular risk
And they call for further detailed work to better characterize these associations and to assess causality.
The research is led by Rajiv Chowdhury at the University of Cambridge.
The study is published in The BMJ.
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Source: The BMJ.