HONOLULU, April 24 Finnish men with the highest concentrations of mercury in their hair also had the highest death rates from cardiovascular disease, congestive heart failure and stroke, according to a study presented today at the American Heart Associations Asia Pacific Scientific Forum.
Mercury content in the hair is a marker for the amount of methyl mercury, a toxic form of the element, accumulated in the body by eating contaminated fish. Some scientists believe that the amalgam in dental fillings may also be a significant source of mercury, but questions remain about whether the mercury in dental fillings, which is inorganic, is absorbed into the body.
Although consumption of fish may be healthy in general, some fish may contain methyl mercury in amounts harmful for humans, says study author Jukka T. Salonen, M.D., Ph.D, MScP.H., professor of epidemiology at the Research Institute of Public Health at the University of Kuopio in Finland.
In the Kuopio Ischemic Heart Disease Risk Factor (KIHD) study, a total of 2,005 men without heart disease, between 42 and 60 years old were divided into four groups based on the mercury content of their hair, and tracked for an average of 12 years.
Heart disease was defined as a history of an acute coronary event, like a heart attack, or angina pectoris, stroke or other cardiovascular event. The researchers controlled for other risk factors that could have affected their results, including age, levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL, good cholesterol), low-density lipoprotein (LDL, bad cholesterol), triglycerides, family history of coronary heart disease, systolic blood pressure, weight and intake of fatty acids and antioxidants.
The men who scored in the top 25 percent for hair mercury content had a 60 percent increased risk of death from CVD compared to the men in the lower mercury content. Those same men had a 70 percent increased risk of coronary heart disease alone, says Salonen. The amo
Contact: Carole Bullock
American Heart Association