Exposure to tungsten — common in mobile phones, jewellery and light bulbs — could double a person’s risk of suffering a stroke, scientists say.
Researchers at the University of Exeter High found that high levels of the precious metal in the body could severely increase the risk of suffering serious health problems.
Current exposure to tungsten is low, despite its prevalence in a slew of everyday items and appliances. But experts are concerned a gradual increase could pose a health risk to future generations, as advances in technology continue to drive demand for the metal.
Lead author of the research, Dr Jessica Tyrrell, said: “While currently very low, human exposure to tungsten is set to increase.
“We’re not yet sure why some members of the population have higher levels of the metal in their make-up, and an important step in understanding and preventing the risks it may pose to health will be to get to the bottom of how it’s ending up in our bodies.”
The research used data from the US-based National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, analysing more than 8,500 participants aged between 18 and 74 over a 12-year period.
According to World Health Organisation figures, a stroke is the second leading cause of death in the Western world, behind heart disease.
Higher tungsten levels were found to be strongly associated with an increase in the prevalence of stroke, independent of typical risk factors. Importantly, the findings show that tungsten could be a significant risk factor for stroke in people under the age of 50.
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