(Natural News) When someone has high cholesterol, the blame is often pinned on their consumption of foods like cheese and eggs. While dietary choices can indeed influence your cholesterol – although eggs aren’t quite as bad as once believed – a new study shows that something else could be wreaking havoc on your cholesterol levels, even if your diet is flawless: exposure to heavy metals.
According to a study carried out by the American Heart Association, researchers have discovered that people’s LDL, or bad cholesterol, levels become progressively higher as their lead levels rise. They reached their conclusion after looking at a national representative database containing information on the levels of heavy metals and cholesterol in the blood of American adults.
They found that when compared to the group of people who had the lowest metal levels, those who had the highest levels of lead in their blood had a 56 percent higher chance of having greater total cholesterol and a 22 percent greater chance of having higher bad cholesterol. Those who had the highest levels of mercury, meanwhile, had a 73 percent greater likelihood of having higher total cholesterol, while those with the highest levels of cadmium had a 41 percent greater risk of elevated total cholesterol.
It’s not just excessive levels of heavy metals that are influencing cholesterol; those who fell in the middle category in terms of mercury levels had a 23 percent greater chance of higher LDL compared to those with the lowest level.
The researchers expressed concern about the impact of heavy metal exposure on cardiovascular disease, emphasizing the need for heavy metal screening. Lead exposure has already been linked to problems like coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, and hardening of the arteries.
Last year, a study in the Lancet linked historical lead exposure to 256,000 premature deaths each year in the U.S. due to cardiovascular disease. That research, which used an observational study that followed 14,300 people over the course of nearly 20 years, found that even low levels of lead exposure – anywhere from 1 to 5 micrograms of lead for each deciliter of blood – was enough to raise the risk of premature death, particularly from cardiovascular disease.
The researchers identified several avenues of exposure, including historic use in paint, plumbing and fuel, along with ongoing exposure via food, industrial emissions, lead batteries, and contamination from lead smelting sites.
Heavy metals like lead especially dangerous for children
Although these studies focused on older people, heavy metals are just as dangerous for the younger generations. Lead exposure has been linked to a slew of problems in children, including emotional problems, developmental problems and anxiety. A study published in JAMA Pediatrics showed that even low levels of exposure to lead have been linked to behavioral differences and cognitive damage, as well as lower IQ and hyperactivity. It has also been proven to slow growth and cause anemia and hearing damage.
According to estimates from the CDC, four million American households have children who are exposed to high lead levels, and half a million kids in the U.S. have blood levels that exceed the established “action level.”
If you’re concerned about lead exposure, there are a few precautions you can take. If your home was built before 1978, it may have lead-based paint on the walls, possibly beneath newer layers of paint. Ensure the paint is not peeling or cracking, and watch out for lead dust in your home as well. You should also look out for lead-contaminated soil; remove your shoes before entering your home to keep it from spreading.
Have your home’s water tested for lead from a certified lab, and always use cold water for drinking and cooking if you must get your water from the tap; a water filter that removes lead is even better. If you have any doubt, consider a blood test to screen for lead.
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