Levels of heavy metals in blood and urine associated with increased mortality

August 1, 2020


People are exposed to heavy metals in many ways during the course of their daily life. However, the effect of mixtures of heavy metals on mortality in the U.S. general population is unclear.
Study published in Environmental pollution journal aimed to investigate the association between heavy metal concentrations in blood (lead, cadmium and mercury) and urine (barium, cadmium, cobalt, cesium, molybdenum, lead, antimony, titanium, tungsten and uranium) and all-cause, cardiovascular disease (CVD) and cancer mortality. Study used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 1999–2014. Data from total of 26,056 subjects was used to estimate relative risk of all cause, cancer and cardio vascular mortality.

The blood metal mixture was associated with all-cause mortality(RR 1.38, 95% CI 1.25, 1.51), CVD mortality (RR 1.43, 95% CI 1.06, 1.94) and cancer mortality (RR 1.41,95% CI 1.12, 1.76) and cadmium had the highest weight among all the metals for both blood and urine.


In accordance with Longevica screening study in mice, most of the compounds extending average lifespan up to 20% might be involved in direct or indirect Cadmium (and other heavy metals) detoxification process. Presented paper provides epidemiological insight into mechanisms of ageing, most important fact that Cadmium and other heavy metals increase risks even in the low concentrations, and therefore it makes sense to work continuously on lowering concentration on both environmental and physiological levels.


Another study [1] published in 2017 was discussing that although environmental cadmium and lead exposure have improved since 1988, the general population, however, remains exposed to both lead and cadmium, and both metals remain associated with cardiovascular disease at relatively low levels of exposure


1 - Adrian Ruiz-Hernandez et al, Declining exposures to lead and cadmium contribute to explaining the reduction of cardiovascular mortality in the US population, 1988–2004, International Journal of Epidemiology, Volume 46, Issue 6, December 2017, Pages 1903–1912, https://doi.org/10.1093/ije/dyx176