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Cumulative Lead Exposure and Prospective Change in Cognition among Elderly Men *

Lead exposure has been found to affect cognitive function in several different populations. Whether chronic low-level environmental exposure to lead results in cognitive decline among adults has not been examined. The authors assessed the relation between biomarkers of lead exposure and change in Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) scores in the Normative Aging Study, a cohort of elderly US men. Bone lead was measured with K-shell x-ray fluorescence. A total of 466 men aged 67.4 (standard deviation, 6.6) years took the MMSE on two occasions that were an average of 3.5 (standard deviation, 1.1) years apart during the period 1993–2001 and had bone lead concentrations measured during the period 1991–2002. A one-interquartile range (20 µg/g of bone mineral) higher patella bone lead concentration was associated with a change in MMSE score of –0.24 (95% confidence interval: –0.44, –0.05) after adjustment for age, education, smoking, alcohol intake, and time between MMSE tests. This effect is approximately equivalent to that of aging 5 years in relation to the baseline MMSE score in study data. The association with tibia lead was weaker and that with blood lead was absent. The data suggest that higher patella bone lead levels, a marker of mobilizable accumulated lead burden, are associated with a steeper decline over time in performance on the MMSE test among nonoccupationally exposed elderly men.

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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 08-18-2009
Authors: Marc G. Weisskopf1 , Robert O. Wright1,2,3, Joel Schwartz1, Avron Spiro, III4,5, David Sparrow4,5,6, Antonio Aro1,3 and Howard Hu1,3
Source: American Journal of Epidemiology 2004 160(12),:1184-1193; doi:10.1093/aje/