Effect of dietary calcium on blood lead concentrations in occupationally exposed and nonexposed workers

Estela Kristal-Boneh, Paul Froom, Noga Yerushalmi, Ruth Ashkanazi, Asher Pardo, Ralph Shine, Joseph Ribak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Workers exposed to lead may benefit from a calcium-rich diet, since calcium competes with lead for intestinal absorption. We studied the effect of dietary calcium on blood lead levels. We assessed blood lead levels, dietary intake of calcium, smoking and alcohol consumption, and anthropometric and demographic data in 56 workers exposed to lead and 90 workers without such exposure. Mean intake of dietary calcium was 775 ± 370 mg/day in the nonexposed workers and 858 ± 423 mg/day in the exposed workers. Occupational lead exposure explained nearly 90% of the variance in blood lead levels of the entire cohort. Smoking and alcohol intake also showed significant associations with blood lead levels, but their combined effect was less than 2%. When the exposed and nonexposed workers were considered separately, no association was found between blood lead levels and calcium intake. The amount of calcium in the diet does not influence blood lead levels. Further studies are warranted to determine whether dietary calcium influences blood lead levels in exposed and nonexposed workers in other settings and in subjects with lower intakes of calcium.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)512-516
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of Industrial Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 1998


  • Battery
  • Dietary calcium
  • Exposure
  • Lead
  • Plant workers


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