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Daily News Blog

17
Dec

Cardiovascular Disease Linked to Pesticide Exposure

(Beyond Pesticides, December 17, 2018) Cardiovascular disease is a major cause of poor health and mortality across the world. Much is known about congenital and behavioral contributors to the disease, yet to date, little research has focused on potential environmental factors, including the possible contribution to cardiovascular disease (CVD) of exposures to toxic chemicals in the workplace. A recent study of CVD incidence among Hispanic and Latino workers, by Catherine Bulka, PhD, et al., has evaluated associations of self-reported exposures to organic solvents, metals, and pesticides with CVD.

The study was published in the journal Heart on December 11, 2018, and is first to evaluate the role of chemical exposures in the workplace in the incidence of CVD in this demographic sector. As do many scientific investigations, this one points to a need for further study of the links that emerged between such exposures and compromised cardiovascular health.

In an editorial in that same issue of Heart, commenting on the study, Dr. Karin Broberg of the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, noted that “exposure to metals and pesticides is common worldwide, and this study highlights the need to better understand the risks that these exposures cause, and to limit exposure in the workplace, thus promoting cardiac health.” She also reminded readers that some pesticides cause oxidative stress, and that it, as well as other mechanisms, are likely to be important in understanding the impacts of such exposures. Oxidative stress is implicated as a mechanism of harm from pesticides, as noted by Beyond Pesticides in November 2018 in Daily News.

CVD has any number of risk factors, such as age, hypertension, obesity, elevated cholesterol levels, family history, and behavioral factors, such as smoking, diet, physical activity, alcohol consumption, and others. Chief among the types and outcomes of cardiovascular disease are coronary, peripheral, and carotid artery disease; heart failure; stroke; myocardial infarction (heart attack); cardiomyopathy; and cardiac arrhythmias.

The Heart study assessed data from health questionnaires completed by, and clinical examinations of, nearly 7,500 workers, aged 18–74, from a variety of occupations and industries. More than two-thirds of the study subjects had been in their current work positions for an average of 10 years. Researchers determined that 4.7% of the subjects — workers in Chicago, Miami, New York, and San Diego — are currently exposed to pesticides, 6.5% are exposed to organic solvents, and 8.5% are exposed to metals through their job activities. The research found a positive correlation between those exposures to pesticides (and to metals, to a lesser degree) and development of CVD; no such correlation appeared for organic solvents. (Metals exposure was significantly correlated only with atrial fibrillation.)

Of the multiple sub-types of CVD, the study finds the strongest correlation between pesticide exposures, and coronary heart disease and atrial fibrillation. For individuals who work with pesticides, prevalence for any CVD is 2.18%; for coronary heart disease, 2.20%; for cerebrovascular disease, 1.38%; for heart failure, 0.91%; and for atrial fibrillation, 5.92%. These figures reflect control for sociodemographic, acculturation, lifestyle, and occupational characteristics. As Science Daily reports, “After taking account of potentially influential factors, including lifestyle and workplace factors, exposure to pesticides was associated with nearly six-fold higher odds of atrial fibrillation, while exposure to metals was associated with nearly four-fold higher odds.”

The study authors noted that, “metal and pesticide exposures in the workplace were cross-sectionally associated with marked elevations in the prevalence of CVD. These results should be considered preliminary and interpreted with caution given the limitations of our study design; namely, our reliance on self-reported exposure status and cross-sectional data.” That said, the reports of CVD in subjects were shown to have high validity and were combined with electrocardiographic evidence. Because this study was observational, it cannot establish cause. But it does point researchers to the need to investigate further pesticide exposure as a risk factor for development of cardiovascular disease.

A 2016 meta-review of research by Azizah Wahab, et al., and published in the International Journal of Community Medicine and Public Health, concluded that, “individual pesticide evaluation revealed significant associat[ion] with non-fatal myocardial infarction. Organochlorine [pesticides are] significantly associated with peripheral arterial disease and stroke. In severe poisonings, [the] general impression is that cardiac abnormalities are common. This systematic review suggests that pesticide exposure is associated with increased risk of CVD and CVD mortality.”

Beyond Pesticides has previously written about the relationship between pesticide exposures and cardiovascular disease. In 2011, a Daily News article reviewed research that shows a relationship between exposure to organochlorine pesticides and the development of atherosclerosis, a precursor to CVD. Beyond Pesticides maintains its Pesticide-Induced Diseases Database to chronicle the range of diseases linked to pesticides through epidemiologic studies. The database, which contains hundreds of entries about epidemiologic and laboratory exposure studies, is regularly updated to track emerging knowledge.

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

Sources: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/12/181211190008.htm and https://heart.bmj.com/content/early/2018/10/23/heartjnl-2018-313463

 

 

 

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