Lead in the Body?A Ticking Time Bomb

Published Online: Thursday, May 1, 2003

Exposure to lead has been linked to hypertension in men. Now a new study published in the March 26, 2003, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association reveals what may amount to a ticking time bomb of lead in menopausal women. Lead from air pollution, water, paint, and other sources enters the body and accumulates in the bones. It can remain there for decades without causing problems, but when bones start to thin due to menopause, the lead can leak back into the blood, resulting in a latent exposure or reexposure.

The removal of lead from paint and gasoline has resulted in a general lowering of lead blood levels in recent decades, yet low levels of lead exposure and hypertension remain common in American adults. It is thought that, although it may not be the main cause of hypertension, lead could still be responsible for a significant number of cases. Commenting on the study, 1 expert suggested that getting adequate amounts of calcium might reduce bone thinning and release of lead into the system.



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