Atherosclerosis and hypertension induction by lead and cadmium ions: An effect prevented by calcium ion

N. W. Revis, A. R. Zinsmeister, R. Bull

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134 Scopus citations


In epidemiological studies, both positive and negative correlations have been found between cardiovascular disease and mortality and the presence of several inorganic ions in the drinking water. In an attempt to resolve this apparent disagreement, we exposed White Carneau pigeons to drinking water containing calcium (100 ppm), magnesium (30 ppm), lead (0.8 ppm), or cadmium (0.6 ppm) and used a 24-factorial design to measure the effects of these elements in atherosclerosis and hypertension. The results indicate that (i) lead and cadium induced aortic atherosclerosis and hypertension, and (ii) calcium protects against the cardiovascular effects of cadmium. Furthermore, the effects of lead and cadmium were promoted by magnesium, and there were indications that magnesium antagonized the atherosclerotic protective effect of calcium. We suggest that, if these results with the pigeon can be applied to humans, the incidence of aortic atherosclerosis and hypertension should be significantly higher in areas where the drinking water contains magnesium, lead, and cadmium with a relatively low calcium concentration. Furthermore, if hard and soft water produce similar levels of lead and cadmium uptakes, the level of magnesium may be an additional factor in aortic atherosclerosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6494-6498
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number10 I
StatePublished - 1981

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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