According to a study performed by New York City's health department, menopausal related bone loss in women may pose other risks. Researchers examined data on 2,165 women ages 40 to 59 who participated in a national health survey conducted from 1988 until 1994.
The study which appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association (AMA) found bone loss during menopause may elevate lead levels in the blood. This ultimately may result in a risk of high blood pressure.
Lead, from paint, air pollution or other environmental sources, accumulates in bones over the years, without posing a problem if it occurs at low levels.
When aging bones start to thin, lead can leak back into the blood, where it is more likely to cause damage. High blood pressure is one of the possible risks.
Loss of bone at menopause can essentially result in a latent or re-exposure to lead" said Dr. Denis Nash, the lead author of the study and a researcher with New York City's health department.
Study participants with the highest levels of lead in their blood - averaging 6.4 micrograms per deciliter - were 40% more likely to have high blood pressure than those with the lowest blood-lead levels, one micrograms per deciliter on average.
That suggests that lead in the blood has a damaging effect on blood pressure even when it's below the government's "level of concern" for childhood lead exposure, 10 micrograms per per deciliter, Dr. Nash said. The federal limit for occupational exposure is 40 micrograms per deciliter.
Even though Americans' blood lead levels have fallen in recent decades with efforts to remove lead from environmental sources, including paint and gasoline, the study underscores reasons to remain concerned about lead exposure, said Howard Hu of Harvard's School of Public Health, who wasn't involved in the research.
Dr. Hu's research suggested that getting adequate amounts of calcium might offset lead's damaging effects on blood pressure. There are mixed opinions regarding the benefits of calcium on high blood pressure.
What Is The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA)
The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), is a weekly peer-reviewed medical journal published by the American Medical Association. Since 2011, the editor-in-chief is Howard C. Bauchner (Boston University), who succeeded Catherine D. DeAngelis, who had served since 2000.
The journal was established in 1883, with Nathan Smith Davis as founding editor. The acronym JAMA was added in 1960. The journal has French and Spanish language editions.
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