To examine the associations between serum cadmium, lead, and mercury and hypertension in pre- and postmenopausal women.
Serum heavy metal (cadmium, lead, and mercury) levels were analyzed in 7,226 randomly selected women who participated in Korean National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys from 2009 to 2017. Odds ratios (ORs) for hypertension were calculated for log2-transformed serum heavy metal levels, median tertile levels of serum cadmium, mercury, and lead, and for interactions between heavy metal levels and tertiles, after covariate adjustment.
A doubling of serum cadmium was associated with hypertension in premenopausal (OR 2.47; 95% CI, 1.01-6.10, P = 0.049) and postmenopausal women (OR 1.70; 95% CI, 1.02-2.84, P = 0.043), and significant trends were observed for cadmium tertiles (P < 0.01). In premenopausal women, a two-fold increase in serum mercury increased the OR of hypertension by 3.08 (95% CI, 1.12-8.43, P = 0.029), and significant trends were also observed for serum mercury tertiles (P < 0.01). Interactions between serum cadmium, lead, and mercury levels in pre- and postmenopausal women were found to impact the prevalence of hypertension.
Given increasing exposure to heavy metals in Korea, further prospective study is needed to identify associations between heavy metal exposures, both separately and in combination, with the prevalence of cardiovascular disease risk factors in well-characterized cohorts of different populations and to determine means of preventing heavy metal exposure.