Lethal legacy of lead: Millions affected by lead-related heart disease and IQ decline
(NaturalHealth365) Think lead exposure is a thing of the past? Unfortunately, even though lead-based paint was banned for residential use in the United States way back in 1978, the historical effects of lead exposure are still making an impact today on the world’s public health – from increasing the risk of heart disease to contributing to the decline in childhood IQ.
In fact, according to a new report published in The Lancet Planetary Health, the global health burden and costs of lead exposure could be up to 7 times greater than previously estimated.
A sobering (and silent?) problem: IQ loss, deaths due to lead-linked heart disease SIGNIFICANTLY greater than previously thought, new research finds
For their study, a team of World Bank-funded researchers analyzed country blood lead level estimates from the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study (GBD) of 2019. After measuring and estimating the scope and economic cost of lead-related IQ loss and heart disease deaths over a five-year observational period, the researchers came to some stunning conclusions:
- Across the world, children younger than 5 years old who came from low- to medium-income families lost a collective 765 million IQ points – that’s nearly 6 points per child, a figure that is 80 percent greater than previous estimates
- Since IQ loss is associated with an income reduction of about 2 percent per point, this roughly translates to a lifetime income loss of nearly 12 percent and an annual global income loss of $2.4 trillion, with the burden falling heavily on low-income countries
- Additionally, more than 5.5 million adults died from heart disease in 2019 due to lead exposure
Overall, the global health and economic cost of lead exposure in 2019 was $6 trillion. About three-quarters of this figure was due to the impact of cardiovascular disease mortality, with the remaining quarter due to the “present value of future income losses from IQ loss.” In a world with increasing inflation and worsening environmental toxicity, the devastating implications of these findings cannot be overstated.
THESE are the most common community and household items with lead in them
If you live in a newer home or simply know that your house does not contain any lead-based paint, perhaps you haven’t worried too much about whether your family is exposed to this toxic metal. But while dust and chips from old paint (found in homes and on old or imported toys, furniture, etc.) are considered the most common cause of lead poisoning, there are many other potential routes of exposure that you should be aware of.
According to the New York State Department of Health, these potential routes of lead exposure include:
- Drinking water
- Certain cosmetics
- Certain ayurvedic and alternative medicines from non-trusted sources
- Imported canned food
- Firearms with lead bullets
- Imported candies and foods
- Lead-glazed art, including ceramics, china, and pewter
- Children’s jewelry
- Workplace exposure (depending on the occupation)
Interestingly, a 2022 research article published in the peer-reviewed journal PNAS estimated that about half of the U.S. population alive today (170 million people) was exposed to high levels of lead in early childhood – and millions of these people were exposed to five times or more of the current reference level.
It all really makes you wonder just how much the impact of lead exposure – including prior exposure – is on the radar of our global and political leaders. After all, the health and productivity of our future generations could depend on it greatly, especially when taken into the context of our increasingly toxic environment.
In the meantime, research suggests that outside of professional chelation treatment under medical supervision – indicated in the case of severe lead poisoning – there are dietary strategies that may help clear out heavy metals like lead from your body. Namely, these include eating foods and potentially taking high-quality supplements that are rich in certain vitamins and nutrients, including vitamin C, vitamin E, thiamine (B1), folate (B9), and iron.
If you’re concerned about heavy metal poisoning for yourself or a loved one, be sure to reach out to a trusted healthcare practitioner, such as a holistic medicine doctor, with experience in detoxification. Here, at NaturalHealth365, we will continue to produce articles about the importance of heavy metal detoxification in the coming months.
Sources for this article include: