Thursday February 21, 2019

Exposure to Arsenic, Lead May Spike up Risk of Heart Disease

Since metals are associated with cardiovascular disease even at relatively low levels of exposure, "population-wide strategies to minimise exposure will further contribute to overall cardiovascular prevention efforts," the researchers concluded

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Heart Disease
Even low exposure to arsenic, lead may up heart disease risk. Pixabay

Even low levels of exposure to toxic chemicals in the environment like arsenic, lead, copper and cadmium pose a significant risk to cardiovascular health, finds a study, led by one of an Indian-origin.

Although often naturally occurring, these contaminants have made their way into water supplies and, via irrigation, into the food chain.

Concern has often focused on the toxicity or carcinogenic properties of the metals, particularly at high doses.

However, the findings, published by The BMJ, showed there is increasing evidence to suggest that heavy metals may have other adverse effects on health – including cardiovascular disease such as heart disease and stroke – even at lower levels of exposure, the researchers said.

“It’s clear from our analysis that there’s a possible link between exposure to heavy metals or metalloids and risk of conditions such as heart disease, even at low doses – and the greater the exposure, the greater the risk,” said lead author Rajiv Chowdhury, from Britain’s University of Cambridge.

Heart Disease
Concern has often focused on the toxicity or carcinogenic properties of the metals, particularly at high doses. Pixabay

“While people shouldn’t be overly worried about any immediate health risk, it should send a message to policymakers that we need to take action to reduce people’s exposure.”

The study “reinforces the (often under-recognised) importance of environmental toxic metals in enhancing global cardiovascular risk, beyond the roles of conventional behavioural risk factors, such as smoking, poor diet and inactivity,” the researchers said.

For the study, the team conducted a meta-analysis of 37 studies involving almost 350,000 participants.

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Chowdhury noted that the study highlighted the potential need for additional worldwide efforts and strategies “to reduce human exposures even in settings where there is a relatively lower average level of exposure.”

Since metals are associated with cardiovascular disease even at relatively low levels of exposure, “population-wide strategies to minimise exposure will further contribute to overall cardiovascular prevention efforts,” the researchers concluded. (IANS)

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Study Finds, Statins Can Prevent Neurological Disorder Development

For the study, the team of researchers searched genetic datasets of around 25 million people to find risk factors for developing ALS.

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Neurological disorder
Statins, if clinically tested, could be used to prevent the development of MND, the researchers said. Pixabay

Besides treating heart disease, cholesterol-lowering drugs statins can also be used to prevent the development of a neurodegenerative disease, finds a study.

According to the study by Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) researchers, high cholesterol has been found to be a possible risk factor for the development of motor neurone disease (MND) — a non-curable disease that affects the brain and nerves and is also known as Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

The symptoms include weakness, indistinct speech, difficulty in swallowing food, muscle cramps and more. In some cases, people experienced changes in their thinking and behaviour.

“We saw that higher levels of LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol) were causally linked with a greater risk of the disease,” said Alastair Noyce from the varsity.

Heart disease, Neurological
For the study, published in journal “Annals of Neurology”, the team of researchers searched genetic datasets of around 25 million people to find risk factors for developing ALS. Pixabay

“We have well-established drugs that can lower cholesterol and we should look into whether they could protect against this terrible disease, which currently has no cure,” Noyce added.

For the study, published in journal “Annals of Neurology”, the team of researchers searched genetic datasets of around 25 million people to find risk factors for developing ALS.

In addition to the causal effect of high cholesterol, they also found genetic associations with smoking behaviour and lower levels of educational achievement, and an increased risk of ALS.

While low levels of exercise were associated with a protective effect, more aggressive exercise was associated with increased risk.

Neurological disorder, statins
Cholesterol-lowering drugs statins can also be used to prevent the development of a neurodegenerative disease. VOA

However, of these findings, only high cholesterol emerged as a clear modifiable factor that could be targeted to reduce the risk of MND.

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Statins, if clinically tested, could be used to prevent the development of MND, the researchers said.

“The next steps will include studying whether lowering levels of cholesterol might have a protective effect against MND, and potentially evaluating the use of cholesterol-modifying drugs in people at risk of MND,” Noyce noted. (IANS)