Common pesticide linked to higher risk of death from heart disease

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Exposure to pyrethroids, a common class of insecticides used to kill lice, mosquitoes, and other pests, may raise a person's risk of cardiovascular disease and early death, a new study suggests.

Researchers measured levels of a breakdown product of pyrethroids in urine samples from 2,116 adults who were part of a large national health study. The samples were obtained between 1999 and 2002, when the participants were about 43 years old, on average. After a median follow-up of 14.4 years, people with the highest exposure to pyrethroids were three times more likely to die from heart disease than those with the lowest exposure to the chemicals. The study was published online Dec. 30, 2019, by JAMA Internal Medicine.

While the results don't prove that pyrethroids cause heart disease, the findings "deserve immediate further exploration," according to an editorial accompanying the study. Aerial spraying of pyrethroids helps combat mosquitoes to prevent West Nile virus and other serious diseases, so avoiding the chemical can be difficult.

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