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Study Finds Higher Blood Mercury Not Associated with Depression

January 8, 2014

ResearchBrian Lee, PhD, Assistant Professor, and Jana Mossey, PhD, MPH, MSN, Professor, both in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the Drexel University School of Public Health, coauthored an article entitled “Total Blood Mercury Levels and Depression among Adults in the United States: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2005–2008,” published in PLoS ONE.

Though mercury is linked with psychiatric symptoms at high levels of exposure, it has been unclear whether an association is present at the low exposure levels in the U.S. adult population.

The study discussed in this article assessed cross-sectional associations of total blood mercury and depression in 6,911 adults, age 20 or older, in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), 2005–2008.

The authors found that higher total blood mercury was not associated with increased odds of depression, and conclude that the lower odds of depression in older adults with higher total blood mercury may be due to residual confounding.