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Mercury Linked to High Blood Pressure in Native Canadians

Study suggests Inuits have high mercury exposure due to a traditional fish-based diet

TUESDAY, Oct. 6 (HealthDay News) -- High exposure to environmental mercury in Canadian Inuits, which is due to their traditional diet of fish, is associated with high blood pressure, according to a study published online Oct. 5 in Hypertension.

Beatriz Valera, from the Centre de Recherche du Centre hospitalier universitaire de Quebec, and colleagues investigated whether mercury affected blood pressure in 732 Nunavik Inuit adults (mean age, 34.3 years).

The researchers found that the mean systolic blood pressure was 117 mm Hg, mean diastolic blood pressure was 73 mm Hg, mean pulse pressure was 43 mm Hg, and the mean mercury level was 50.2 nmol/L. After adjusting for possible confounders, including fish nutrients such as n-3 fatty acids and selenium, mercury was significantly associated with higher systolic blood pressure and pulse pressure, and approached significance for diastolic blood pressure.

"Even in the setting of blood pressure within the normal range and after controlling for fish nutrients (n-3 fatty acids and selenium) and other confounding factors, mercury is associated with higher blood pressure and pulse pressure among Nunavik Inuit adults," Valera and colleagues conclude.

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