Results from a new study show that lifetime lead exposure may increase the risk of developing cataracts. Researchers found that men with high levels of lead in the tibia, the larger of the two leg bones below the knee, had a 2.5-fold increased risk for cataract, the leading cause of blindness and visual impairment.
"These results suggest that reducing exposure of the public to lead and lead compounds could lead to a significant decrease in the overall incidence of cataract," said Kenneth Olden, Ph.D., director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.
The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, one of the National Institutes of Health, provided support to researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health and Brigham and Womens Hospital for the nine-year study, which is also focusing on leads contribution to hypertension and impairment of kidney and cognitive function. The findings on risk of cataract are published in the December 8th issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. Lead is found in lead-based paint, contaminated soil, household dust, drinking water, lead crystal, and lead-glazed pottery. Following exposure to lead, the compound circulates in the bloodstream and eventually concentrates in the bone.
John Peterson | EurekAlert!
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