Multiple metal exposure and metabolic syndrome in elderly individuals: A case-control study in an active mining district, Northwest China

Sai Guo, Liting Hua, Wu Liu, Hongxiu Liu, Qiusheng Chen, Yongcheng Li, Xiaoxiao Li, Leicheng Zhao, Ruoqi Li, Zining Zhang, Chong Zhang, Lin Zhu, Hongwen Sun, Hongzhi Zhao*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review


The prevalence of metabolic syndrome (MetS) is increasing at an alarming rate worldwide, particularly among elderly individuals. Exposure to various metals has been linked to the development of MetS. However, limited studies have focused attention on the elderly population living in active mining districts. Participants with MetS (N = 292) were matched for age (±2 years old) and sex with a healthy subject (N = 292). We measured the serum levels of 14 metals in older people aged 65–85 years. Conditional logistic regression, restricted cubic spline model, multiple linear regression, and Bayesian Kernel Machine Regression (BKMR) were applied to estimate potential associations between multiple metals and the risk of MetS. Serum levels of Sb and Fe were significantly higher than the controls (0.58 μg/L vs 0.46 μg/L, 2167 μg/L vs 2042 μg/L, p < 0.05), while Mg was significantly lower (20035 μg/L vs 20,394 μg/L, p < 0.05). An increased risk of MetS was associated with higher serum Sb levels (adjusted odds ratio (OR) = 1.61 for the highest tertile vs. the lowest tertile, 95% CI = 1.08–2.40, p-trend = 0.018) and serum Fe levels (adjusted OR = 1.55 for the highest tertile, 95% CI = 1.04–2.33, p-trend = 0.032). Higher Mg levels in serum may have potential protective effects on the development of MetS (adjusted OR = 0.61 for the highest tertile, 95% CI = 0.41–0.91, p-trend = 0.013). A joint exposure analysis by the BKMR model revealed that the mixture of 12 metals (except Tl and Cd) was associated with increased risk of MetS. Our results indicated that exposure to Sb and Fe might increase the risk of MetS in an elderly population living in mining-intensive areas. Further work is needed to confirm the protective effect of Mg on MetS.

Original languageEnglish
Article number138494
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

User-Defined Keywords

  • Active mining district
  • Case-control study
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Mixed exposure
  • Multiple metals


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