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Gout Linked to Low Levels of Lead

No Amount of Lead in the Blood Is Safe, Researchers Say

More Research Needed on Both Risk and Treatments continued...

"We don't yet know the best way to use this information, so we can't make any real recommendations," says Sehgal, a kidney specialist and associate professor of medicine at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.

He says the most common ways people are exposed to lead is through jobs such as mining, smelting, and battery manufacturing. Hobbies that involve soldering may also put people at risk, though that risk can be reduced by wearing a mask and working in well-ventilated spaces. Krishnan says smokers have higher blood lead levels, another good reason to quit.

If you have gout and are worried about lead exposure, Sehgal advises discussing your occupational exposure history with your doctor.

Krishnan says a blood lead test might be a good idea if a patient has gout without any of the known risk factors, such as obesity and hypertension. The problem, he says, is what to do if a patient's blood levels are found to be high.

"We don't yet know the best way to get the lead out," says Krishnan. "We don't have a very good, evidence-based treatment for that."

Krishnan says he hopes his study will encourage further research into lead's impact as well as into therapies to reduce risky levels of lead in the blood. While he recognizes that lead exposure can't be completely eradicated, better efforts need to be made to control it.

"Clinically speaking, we should not be tolerating lead," says Krishnan.

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