PCB Exposure May Raise Risk for Hypertension

Higher PCB levels associated with hypertension, poorer blood pressure control
By Monica Smith
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, July 21 (HealthDay News) -- Exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) appears to be associated with rates of hypertension, and may have an effect on blood pressure control, according to research published online July 16 in the Journal of Hypertension.

Alexey Goncharov, M.D., of the University at Albany in Rensselaer, N.Y., and colleagues examined blood pressure measurements, demographic characteristics, medication intake, smoking, physical activity levels, and the presence of PCBs in blood samples of 758 residents of Anniston, Ala., living near a former PCB-manufacturing plant to establish risk factors for elevated blood pressure and hypertension.

The researchers found that age, serum PCB concentration, and African-American race were associated with significant increases in rates of hypertension, which also increased with body mass index. The researchers also found a significant positive relationship between serum PCB levels and systolic and diastolic blood pressure in the 394 individuals not taking antihypertensive medication. After adjusting for potential confounders, they determined that the odds ratios for the highest to lowest tertiles of total serum PCBs exceeded 3.5 for systolic and diastolic hypertension. The quintile with the highest odds ratio was the third, which suggested a low dose effect.

"In individuals not on antihypertensive medication, serum PCB levels were significantly associated with prevalence of hypertension. Significant positive associations were also observed between PCB concentrations and systolic and diastolic blood pressure even in normotensive ranges. The strength of the relationships between PCB exposure and both hypertension and blood pressure suggests that PCB exposure may be an important contributing factor in regulation of blood pressure," the authors write.

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