Obesity Mediated the Association of Exposure to Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon With Risk of Cardiovascular Events

Sci Total Environ. 2018 Mar;616-617:841-854. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.10.238. Epub 2017 Nov 6.


Exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) could cause high blood pressure (BP) and increased risk for atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD). However, the mechanisms underlying the relationship between them were unclear. We investigated potential mediation effect of obesity on the association of exposure to PAHs with high BP and increased risk for ASCVD. In the repeated measures study, 106 community-dwelling residents in Wuhan, China finished the physical examination in the winter and summer seasons, eight urinary PAHs metabolites were measured. Associations of urinary PAHs with high BP and increased risk for ASCVD were assessed using either linear mixed effect models or generalized estimating equations models. Mediation analysis was performed to evaluate the mediating effect of obesity on the association of urinary PAHs metabolites with high BP or increased risk of ASCVD. We observed the positive association between urinary PAHs metabolites and BP or the odds ratios for high BP (all P<0.05). Additionally, each one-unit increase in ln-transformed urinary levels of 4-hydroxyphenanthrene or the total of PAH metabolites was associated with a 12.63% or 11.91% increase in the estimated 10-year ASCVD risk (both P<0.05). The waist-to-height ratio mediated 29.0% of the association of urinary 4-hydroxyphenanthrene with increased risk of ASCVD (P<0.05). The findings suggest that PAHs exposure may be associated with elevated BP and an increased risk of ASCVD. Obesity may partially mediate the association between PAHs exposure and higher BP or increased risk of ASCVD.

Keywords: Atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease; Blood pressure; Mediated effect; Obesity; Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

MeSH terms

  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology*
  • China / epidemiology
  • Environmental Exposure / statistics & numerical data*
  • Environmental Pollutants / analysis*
  • Environmental Pollution / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons / analysis


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons