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Mental Health Channel
Reported December 8, 2009

Lead Linked to Depression, Panic Disorders

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- New research suggests higher levels of lead in the blood, even those generally considered safe, may increase the risk of depression and panic disorders.

One fifth of participants with the highest blood lead level were 2.3 more times more likely to have major depression and almost five times more likely to have a panic disorder than the one-fifth with the lowest levels.

“These findings suggest that lead neurotoxicity may contribute to adverse mental health outcomes, even at levels considered to pose low or no risk,” the authors were quoted as saying. “These findings … should underscore the need for considering ways to further reduce environmental lead exposures.”

Lead, a neurotoxin, can be found in air, soil, dust and water, and can be exposed through gasoline, paint, industrial processes, pottery and contaminated water. The elimination of lead from gasoline has significantly lowered blood lead levels, but experts say the decrease is not sufficient for the public's safety.

The study involved 2,000 participants between 20 and 39 years old. The young adults were tested through interviews for depression and panic disorder symptoms, and their blood lead levels were determined through blood tests.

SOURCE: Archives of General Psychiatry, a JAMA journal, December 2009



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