Researchers have reported that chromium (Cr) exposure may be associated with metabolism of glucose and lipids in residents living in a long-term Cr polluted area. Previous statistical analysis is mainly focused on individual chromium exposure. Furtherly, we aim to investigated the independent, combined, and interaction effects of the co-exposure of urine Cr (UCr) with cadmium (UCd), lead (UPb) and manganese (UMn) on body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, and the risk of overweight and abdominal obesity.
We enrolled 1187 participants from annual surveys between 2017 and 2019. Heavy metal concentrations in urine were standardized using covariate-adjusted urine creatinine levels. Multiple linear/logistic regression models were applied to measure the single effect of urine heavy metal concentration on the outcomes. The quantile-based g-computation (g-comp) model was used to evaluate the combined effect of metal mixture on the outcomes and to compare the contribution of each metal. Both additive and multiplicative interactions were measured for UCr with UCd, UPb, UMn on the outcomes. Analysis was performed on the overall population and stratified by smoking habit.
For the overall study population, UCr was positively associated with BMI (p trend = 0.023) and waist circumference (p trend = 0.018). For smoking participants, the g-comp model demonstrated that the metal mixture was negatively associated with BMI, with UCr and UCd contributing the most in the positive and negative direction. A negative additive interaction was observed between UCr and UCd on BMI and abdominal obesity. We did not observe a significant interaction effect of UCr with UPb or UMn.
Our study indicated that Cr and Cd exposure may be associated with BMI and waist circumference, with combined and interaction effects of the heavy metals noted. Further epidemiological and experimental researches could simultaneously consider single and complex mixed exposure to verify the findings and biological mechanisms.

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