The Health Dangers of Cadmium


cadmium batteries

Cadmium is a toxic metal that occurs naturally in the environment. Humans are exposed to cadmium mostly through plant-derived food. There is no safe margin of cadmium exposure and the need to lower human exposure is desperate. Cadmium produces a number of health problems and is a known carcinogen. In industry, it’s regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and it has a very low permissible exposure level.

Effects of Cadmium Exposure

Cadmium is of no use to the human body and is toxic even at low levels. The negative effects of cadmium on the body are numerous and can impact nearly all systems in the body, including cardiovascular, reproductive, the kidneys, eyes, and even the brain.

  • Cadmium affects blood pressure. [1]
  • Cadmium affects prostate function and testosterone levels. [2]
  • Cadmium induces bone damage (Itai-ltai). [3]
  • Exposure to cadmium can affect renal and dopaminergic systems in children. [4]

Cadmium and Cancer

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency and the International Agency for Research on Cancer, cadmium induces multiple organ damage and one aspect of that is as a carcinogen. [5] Research by the National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services confirms cadmium is linked to human pancreatic cancer. [6]

Cadmium’s Effect on the Brain

Cadmium has a very detrimental effect on the central nervous system, including decreased attention and memory in humans. This is likely because cadmium induces neuron cell death. Neurons are brain cells that communicate and transmit information, if they are affected, so is brain function. [7]

Exposure to this toxic metal even affects the unborn before they’ve even joined this world. Cadmium is well-known to cross the placenta and to accumulate in fetal tissues. Prenatal exposure is a threat to the developing brain and results in reduced birth weight and birth size. [8]

Sources of Cadmium Exposure

Consuming polluted food is the main source of cadmium intake for non-smokers. As if the reasons to quit smoking weren’t high enough, higher cadmium level are found in smokers compared to non-smokers. [9] Other sources of cadmium exposure include nickel-cadmium batteries, fumes from hazardous waste facilities, and fertilizers.

Protect Yourself from Cadmium Exposure

Because of the prevalence of cadmium in industry and the environment, completely eliminating exposure is a very difficult task but there are steps you can take to reduce and counteract your exposure risks. Eat a healthy diet of organically grown fruit, vegetables, and meat to decrease absorption of cadmium. It may be a little more expensive, but your health is worth it.

Get yourself tested to determine the level of cadmium in your body. If you feel your levels are too high, I suggest a chemical and toxic metal cleanse.

- Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, ND, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM

References:

  1. Caciari T, Sancini A, Tomei F, Antetomaso L, Tomei G, Scala B, Sinibaldi F, Di Pastena C, Andreozzi G, Nardone N, Schifano MP, Corbosiero P, Capozzella A, De Sio S, Ciarrocca M. Cadmium blood/urine levels and blood pressure in workers occupationally exposed to urban stressor. Ann Ig. 2012 Sep-Oct;24(5):417-28.
  2. Pizent A, Tariba B, Živković T. Reproductive toxicity of metals in men. Arh Hig Rada Toksikol. 2012;63 Suppl 1:35-46. doi: 10.2478/10004-1254-63-2012-2151. Review.
  3. Ciobanu C, Slencu BG, Cuciureanu R. Estimation of dietary intake of cadmium and lead through food consumption. Rev Med Chir Soc Med Nat Iasi. 2012 Apr-Jun;116(2):617-23. Review.
  4. Evrenoglou L, Partsinevelou SA, Stamatis P, Lazaris A, Patsouris E, Kotampasi C, Nicolopoulou-Stamati P. Children exposure to trace levels of heavy metals at the north zone of Kifissos River. Sci Total Environ. 2013 Jan 15;443:650-61. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2012.11.041. Epub 2012 Dec 7.
  5. Tchounwou PB, Yedjou CG, Patlolla AK, Sutton DJ. Heavy metal toxicity and the environment. EXS. 2012;101:133-64. doi: 10.1007/978-3-7643-8340-4_6.
  6. Qu W, Tokar EJ, Kim AJ, Bell MW, Waalkes MP. Chronic cadmium exposure in vitro causes acquisition of multiple tumor cell characteristics in human pancreatic epithelial cells. Environ Health Perspect. 2012 Sep;120(9):1265-71. doi: 10.1289/ehp.1205082. Epub 2012 May 24.
  7. Pacini S, Fiore MG, Magherini S, Morucci G, Branca JJ, Gulisano M, Ruggiero M. Could cadmium be responsible for some of the neurological signs and symptoms of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Med Hypotheses. 2012 Sep;79(3):403-7. doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2012.06.007. Epub 2012 Jul 12.
  8. Gundacker C, Hengstschläger M. The role of the placenta in fetal exposure to heavy metals. Wien Med Wochenschr. 2012 May;162(9-10):201-6. doi: 10.1007/s10354-012-0074-3. Review.
  9. Cejchanová M, Wranová K, Spevácková V, Krsková A, Smíd J, Cerná M. Human bio-monitoring study–toxic elements in blood of women. Cent Eur J Public Health. 2012 Jun;20(2):139-43.

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    But what levels of exposure are considered to be safe or toxic ?

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