Common environmental toxins, like nicotine, linked to depressive symptoms: Study

New Delhi, Jul 5 : Toxins commonly present in the environment, such as nicotine and metals, have been linked with depressive symptoms like feeling hopeless or taking little interest in daily activities, according to a study conducted on US adults.
Researchers found that inflammation brought about by these environmental toxins could be one of the possible underlying reasons.
The team of researchers, including those from Peking University, China, analysed toxin levels in blood and urine samples of over 3,400 adults. The data was taken from the National Health and Nutrition Examination and Survey (NHANES), which tracks Americans' health and nutrition.
Depression in the participants was assessed using the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9), which can establish diagnosis, along with severity of symptoms.
The researchers found that toxins, including heavy metals, nicotine, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) present in paints and varnishes, increased the risk of depressive symptoms in the participants.
Those with detectable levels of MHBMA2, a VOC, were at 74 per cent higher risk of experiencing depression-like symptoms compared to those with undetectable levels, the authors found.
Further, men were found to be more vulnerable to the depressive effects of environmental toxins, compared to women.
The authors found that inflammation, measured through white blood cell (WBC) count, was one of the processes driving these links between toxins and depression-like symptoms. PTI