Mercury Exposure and CVD Not Associated

Researchers find no evidence that mercury increases risk of cardiovascular disease

WEDNESDAY, March 23 (HealthDay News) -- Exposure to mercury does not appear to increase the risk of stroke, coronary heart disease, or total cardiovascular disease, according to research published in the March 24 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Dariush Mozaffarian, M.D., Dr.P.H., of Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues identified 3,427 incident cases of cardiovascular disease among two cohorts (totaling 51,529 men and 121,700 women) who had stored toenail clippings. They assessed toenail mercury and selenium concentrations.

The researchers found little difference between the two groups in terms of median toenail mercury concentrations, which were 0.23 μg per gram in the case group and 0.25 μg per gram in the control group. Higher exposure to mercury did not appear to increase risk for total cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease, or stroke. They had similar findings in analyses of participants with low selenium concentrations or low overall fish consumption and in several other sensitivity analyses.

"We found no evidence of any clinically relevant adverse effects of mercury exposure on coronary heart disease, stroke, or total cardiovascular disease in U.S. adults at the exposure levels seen in this study," the authors write.

One author disclosed financial relationships with the pharmaceutical industry.

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