Are Bones Affected by Lead Poisoning?
Lead commonly collects in bones because the body accepts lead as a substitute for the calcium needed to grow and sustain healthy bones.1 Lead is, therefore, linked to problems with the development and health of bones. At high levels, lead can result in slowed growth in children.
Studies show vitamin D is important for healthy bones and high blood-lead-levels (BBLs) are inversely related.2 Vitamin D metabolism is decreased at blood-lead-levels of 30 mcg/Dl.3 Thus there is an expectation that lead toxicity effects cell growth and maturation.
In general, adverse effects on bones seems restricted to children with chronically high BLLs (most striking in children with BLLs > 62 µg/dL), and chronic nutritional deficiency, especially with regard to calcium, phosphorous, and vitamin D.4
Can Lead Cause Osteoporosis?
Research underway may provide more information about potential impacts of lead on osteoporosis (weakened bones later in life). However, existing studies show an increased likelihood of osteoporosis in animals exposed to lead.5 Although this link has not been established in humans, it is possible that upon closer examination of lead-exposed individuals, lead will be shown to be a risk factor for the disease.
- Contribution of Tissue Lead to Blood Lead in Adult Female Subjects Based on Stable Lead Isotope Methods, Gulson, Mahaffey, Mizon, Korsch, Cameron & Vimpani, Journal of Laboratory and Clinical Medicine, 1995
- Case Studies in Environmental Medicine (CSEM): Lead Toxicity, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.
- Reduction in 1,25-Dihydroxyvitamin D in Children with Increased Lead Absorption, Rosen, Chesney, Hamstra, DeLuca and Mahaffey, New England Medical, 1980;302(20):1128
- Lead Toxicity: What Are the Physiologic Effects of Lead Exposure? Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, August 20, 2007 (citing Koo et al. 1991)
- Lead Toxicity: What Are the Physiologic Effects of Lead Exposure? Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, August 20, 2007 (citing Puzas, 1992)