People with high levels of exposure to certain insecticides may be more likely to die of cardiovascular disease.

In a December study in JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers from the University of Iowa College of Public Health found that high levels of exposure to pyrethroid insecticides — used in agricultural, community and residential settings for mosquito and pest control — is associated with a higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.

Using data on urine samples collected through the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, researchers were able to examine a nationally representative cohort. The study looked at total and cardiovascular deaths among participants in two cycles of the survey, following them for up to 16.8 years.

Researchers found that people with the highest levels of pyrethroid insecticide exposure, as measured by a biomarker in their urine, had greater all-cause and cardiovascular mortality rates. There was no association between exposure to pyrethroid insecticide and cancer deaths.

“It is known that pyrethroids have neurotoxic effects,” lead study author Wei Bao, MD, PhD, told The Nation’s Health. “Its effects on cardiovascular system in humans remain to be understood.”

Continue reading this story from the February/March 2020 issue of The Nation's Health.

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