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Association of blood lead concentrations with mortality in older women: a prospective cohort study *

Background: Blood lead concentrations have been associated with increased risk of
cardiovascular, cancer, and all-cause mortality in adults in general population and occupational
cohorts. We aimed to determine the association between blood lead, all cause and cause specific
mortality in elderly, community residing women.
Methods: Prospective cohort study of 533 women aged 65–87 years enrolled in the Study of
Osteoporotic Fractures at 2 US research centers (Baltimore, MD; Monongahela Valley, PA) from
1986–1988. Blood lead concentrations were determined by atomic absorption spectrometry.
Using blood lead concentration categorized as < 8 μg/dL (0.384 μmol/L), and ≥ 8 μg/dL (0.384
μmol/L), we determined the relative risk of mortality from all cause, and cause-specific mortality,
through Cox proportional hazards regression analysis.
Results: Mean blood lead concentration was 5.3 ± 2.3 μg/dL (range 1–21) [0.25 ± 0.11 μmol/L
(range 0.05–1.008)]. After 12.0 ± 3 years of > 95% complete follow-up, 123 (23%) women who died
had slightly higher mean (± SD) blood lead 5.56 (± 3) μg/dL [0.27(± 0.14) μmol/L] than survivors:
5.17(± 2.0) [0.25(± 0.1) μmol/L] (p = 0.09). Women with blood lead concentrations ≥ 8 μg/dL
(0.384 μmol/L), had 59% increased risk of multivariate adjusted all cause mortality (Hazard Ratio
[HR], 1.59; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.02–2.49) (p = 0.041) especially coronary heart disease
(CHD) mortality (HR = 3.08 [CI], (1.23–7.70)(p = 0.016), compared to women with blood lead
concentrations < 8 μg/dL(< 0.384 μmol/L). There was no association of blood lead with stroke,
cancer, or non cardiovascular deaths.
Conclusion: Women with blood lead concentrations of ≥ 8 μg/dL (0.384 μmol/L), experienced
increased mortality, in particular from CHD as compared to those with lower blood lead

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As with any procedure, there could be pain or other substantial risks involved. These concerns should be discussed with your health care provider prior to any treatment so that you have proper informed consent and understand that there are no guarantees to healing.

THE INFORMATION IN THIS WEBSITE IS OFFERED FOR GENERAL EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND DOES NOT IMPLY OR GIVE MEDICAL ADVICE. No Doctor/Patient relationship shall be deemed to have arisen simply by reading the information contained on these pages, and you should consult with your personal physician/care giver regarding your medical treatment before undergoing any sort of treatment or therapy.

Published on 10-03-2012