Trace element levels in drinking water and cognitive function among elderly Chinese

Christine L. Emsley, Sujuan Gao, Yiming Li, Chaoke Liang, Rongdi Ji, Kathleen S. Hall, Jingxiang Cao, Feng Ma, Yunpeng Wu, Po Ying, Yan Zhang, Shuzhuang Sun, Frederick W. Unverzagt, Charles W. Slemenda, Hugh C. Hendrie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


The relation between trace element levels in drinking water and cognitive function was investigated in a population-based study of elderly residents (n = 1,016) in rural China in 1996-1997. Cognitive function was measured using a Chinese translation of the Community Screening Interview for Dementia. A mixed effects model was used to evaluate the effect of each of the elements on cognitive function while adjusting for age, sex, and educational level. Several of the elements examined had a significant effect on cognitive function when they were assessed in a univariate context. However, after adjustment for other elements, many of these results were not significant. There was a significant quadratic effect for calcium and a significant zinc-cadmium interaction. Cognitive function increased with calcium level up to a certain point and then decreased as calcium continued to increase. Zinc showed a positive relation with cognitive function at low cadmium levels but a negative relation at high levels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)913-920
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican journal of epidemiology
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 1 2000


  • Aged
  • Cadmium
  • Calcium
  • Cognition
  • Trace elements
  • Water supply
  • Zinc

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology

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