High concentrations of tungsten in the body are strongly linked with an increase in the occurrence of stroke, roughly equal to a doubling of the odds of experiencing the condition, reveals a new study.
Using data from a large US health survey, the study conducted by a team from the University of Exeter, represented the most comprehensive analysis to date of the potential health effects of the metal.
Higher tungsten levels were found to be strongly associated with an increase in the prevalence of stroke, independent of typical risk factors. Importantly, the findings show that tungsten could be a significant risk factor for stroke in people under the age of 50.
Whilst our current exposure to tungsten is thought to be very low, recent years have seen a significant increase in the demand and supply of the material - which is commonly used in consumer products such as mobile phones and computers, as well as a number of industrial and military products.
"Whilst currently very low, human exposure to tungsten is set to increase. We're not yet sure why some members of the population have higher levels of the metal in their make-up, and an important step in understanding and preventing the risks it may pose to health will be to get to the bottom of how it's ending up in our bodies," lead author of the research, Dr Jessica Tyrrell said.
The study is published in the journal PLOS ONE.