Soil heavy metal exposure ups risk of fatty liver disease in lean men
There is a significant correlation between the exposure to heavy metals in the soil and fatty liver disease in a population of lean Taiwanese men, a new study reveals.
This cross-sectional study accessed the database of a tertiary hospital in central Taiwan for information on patients who had received transabdominal sonographies as part of their health evaluations between 6 January 2014 and 31 December 2014.
Individuals with incomplete information in the databases, who were below the age of 20, were engaged in long-term use of oestrogen, with histories of drug usage and were taking other medications like tamoxifen and methotrexate were excluded from the study. A total of 1,137 individuals were included in the final analysis.
The outcome of the study was the correlation of the severity of fatty liver disease with heavy metals concentration in the soil like mercury, arsenic, copper, chromium, zinc, lead and nickel.
The analysis showed that 26.5 percent of the entire study population had moderate to severe fatty liver disease. Furthermore, 56.48 percent of this group were reported to have been exposed to heavy metals. On the other hand, 52.51 percent of the remaining patients reported having such exposures.
Also, men were significantly more likely to have fatty liver disease than women (32 vs 20 percent; p<0.001). Interestingly, exposure to heavy metals was significantly associated with fatty liver disease in men (odds ratio [OR], 1.834; 95 percent CI, 1.161 to 2.899; p=0.009) but not in women (OR, 1.058; 0.572 to 1.955; p=0.858).
Further stratification of participants by BMI showed that lean men (those with BMI of less than 24 kg/m2) were most at risk when exposed to heavy metals (OR, 5.059; 1.628 to 15.728; p<0.05).
The findings show that exposure to heavy metals in the soil is associated with increased risk of fatty liver disease in men, especially those with BMI of less than 24 kg/m2.