Knee Osteoarthritis Linked to Lead Exposure
Knee Osteoarthritis may be exacerbated by exposure to lead, a new study says.
Researchers at the University of North Carolina studied the levels of lead found in the blood of 1,669 participants, comparing them with radiograph images of the participants' knees. Drawing from six townships in North Carolina, thought to be located in an area of the country where an average person has likely been exposed to more lead due to the overuse of lead-based paint and pesticides, the study found striking correlations.
Participants were 20 percent more likely to have Osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee for each one-unit increase in the level of lead in the blood, according to an analysis of the study in MedPage Today. In addition, those with OA were 25 percent more likely to have a more severe case of it if their levels of lead in the blood were one unit higher.
About 95 percent of the lead found in the body is stored in the bones. As bones reform throughout the course of a person's life, material is lost and reabsorbed. The researchers suggest that as lead is released from the bones, it may play a role in the development of OA. Likewise, lead coming from environmental sources outside the body may contribute to the process.
"Increased lead levels may lead to more severe OA and more severe symptoms, as seen in the current analysis, by contributing to increased inflammation and oxidative stress, said the study.
According to the MedPage Today analysis, lead may represent a potentially modifiable risk factor for OA. Researchers have called for more studies to explore this possibility.