Exposure to lead and brain damage

Cumulative exposure to lead can cause cerebral white matter degeneration; You might as well explain the progressive decline in brain functions found in people exposed to this metal. The white matter of the brain contains the axons nerve fibres, surrounded by myelin, a white substance. The myelin acts as an insulator and increases the speed of transmission of nerve signals. More is a high exposure to lead of a subject (detectable by the accumulation of metal bones), will be the worst brain damage over time, according to a study by w. Stewart (Pennsylvania, Geisinger Health System). The Stewart is one of the earliest research showing how exposure to lead may cause progressive damage even after many years. After you have found a connection between exposure to lead and a progressive decline in intellectual function, Stewart and his research team investigated to check for the presence of structural changes in the brain, subjecting to NMR 532 men who had worked in a chemical industry for the production of lead-based additives for fuels. On average the exposure to lead of subject lasted eighteen years. The researchers found that the severity of the abnormalities in white matter is proportional to the intensity of the exposure to lead. The causes may be different. Metal exposure could accelerate the changes normally related to ageing, but might also be related to hypertension, which in turn is connected to the deterioration of brain cells, or even directly damage cells. Stewart hopes to be able to identify better the action mechanism of lead on human brain with future research. The difficulty, at this early research, was also given by the fact that the subjects were exposed to lead not only in the workplace, but also in everyday life, because of metal present in paints and environmental pollution.


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