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Lead exposure hurts women's cognition.

Cumulative exposure to lead, even at low levels, may lead to cognitive decline in women as they age.

A study in the April 4 Environmental Health Perspectives assessed blood lead levels in about 590 women ages 47-74 and then assessed those women's cognitive function five years later. Researchers found levels of all three lead biomarkers in the tibia, patella and blood were associated with worse cognitive performance.

Earlier studies have shown chronic low-level lead exposure is linked to accelerated declines in cognition in older age, but the trend has not previously been examined in women. In the new study, researchers said because the link appeared strongest between blood levels in the tibia compared to the patella and blood, "lead exposure in the distant past may be more important than relatively recent exposures in influencing cognitive function in these women because tibia lead levels measure cumulative exposures over the past decades."

Because the U.S. population of adults ages 65 and older is expected to double between 2000 and 2030, the study's authors urged more research into the issue.
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Title Annotation:Health Findings: The latest public health studies and research
Author:Currie, Donya
Publication:The Nation's Health
Date:Jun 1, 2009
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