Objective To investigate biomarkers of cytogenotoxicity in women exposed to mercury in a mining area. Mercury has been associated with cytogenotoxicity in human and animal models but has not been considered carcinogenic in humans, even though genotoxic effects following exposure to inorganic mercury compounds have been observed.
Methods A cross-sectional study and micronucleus assay in uroepithelial cells were performed in 104 women (12–84 years of age). First urine void samples were taken to determine creatinine-adjusted mercury levels in urine (HgUCr), to isolate cells and to quantify cytogenetic damage.
Results The geometric average level for HgUCr was 4.9 μg/g (range, 0.4–85). In the generalised linear model, after controlling for other co-variables, we observed that for each 10 μg/g increase in HgUCr, the OR of developing a genotoxic effect was 2.37 (95% CI 1.79 to 2.84), while for cytotoxic damage in uroepithelial cells the OR was 1.34 (95% CI 1.10 to 1.79). These results suggest a possible association between cytogenotoxicity and HgUCr.
Conclusion Living in a mining area with exposure to inorganic mercury and having higher mercury levels in urine increased the risk of developing uroepithelial cytogenotoxicity.
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Funding This study was supported by a grant from the National Council of Science of Technology (CONACYT), grant SALUD-2005-01-13891.
Competing interests None.
Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the Instituto Nacional de Salud Pública.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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