The burden of disease of three food-associated heavy metals in clusters in the Danish population - Towards targeted public health strategies

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Lifestyle and sociodemographics are likely to influence dietary patterns, and, as a result, human exposure to chemical contaminants in foods and their associated health impact. We aimed to characterize subgroups of the Danish population based on diet and sociodemographic indicators, and identify those bearing a higher disease burden due to exposure to methylmercury (MeHg), cadmium (Cd) and inorganic arsenic (i-As). We collected dietary, lifestyle, and sociodemographic data on the occurrence of chemical contaminants in foods from Danish surveys. We grouped participants according to similarities in diet, lifestyle, and sociodemographics using Self-Organizing Maps (SOM), and estimated disease burden in disability-adjusted life years (DALY). SOM clustering resulted in 12 population groups with distinct characteristics. Exposure to contaminants varied between clusters and was largely driven by intake of fish, seafood and cereal products. Five clusters had an estimated annual burden >20 DALY/100,000. The cluster with the highest burden had a high proportion of women of childbearing age, with most of the burden attributed to MeHg. Individuals belonging to the top three clusters had higher education and physical activity, were mainly non-smokers and lived in urban areas. Our findings may facilitate the development of preventive strategies targeted to the most affected subgroups.

Original languageEnglish
Article number112072
JournalFood and Chemical Toxicology
Publication statusPublished - 2021

ID: 259833559