Cadmium Exposure heightens breast cancer risk

Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, recently published a study in which the authors describe that dietary cadmium, a toxic metal used in farm fertilizers, may likely be a risk factor for breast cancer.

Associate professor at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, Agneta Akesson, Ph., says: “Because of a high accumulation in agricultural crops, the main sources of dietary cadmium are bread and other cereals, potatoes, root crops and vegetables. In general, these foods are also considered healthy.”

According to authors, low concentration of Cadmium deposition is a natural process and scientists are concerned because plants uptake higher proportions due to poisoning of farmland, mostly caused by atmospheric deposition.

The 12-year study conducted by Åkesson and team comprised 55,987 women who were analyzed using a questionnaire that outlined the frequency at which women consumed certain foods; the questionnaire aimed at establishing the levels of exposure to dietary cadmium. Amongst the women who were followed up by the researchers, 2,112 were cases of breast cancer, of which 1,626 were estrogen receptor-positive and 290 were estrogen receptor-negative.

On distributing Cadmium intake into 3 groups, authors discovered that high dietary exposure to Cadmium increased breast cancer risk by 21% as compared to normal weight women who had a 27% increased risk of breast cancer. Further, estrogen receptor-positive and negative tumors increased the risk by 23%.

Compared to women who consumed dietary cadmium in other foods, those who ate more vegetables and whole grains were found to have a lower risk of breast cancer, according to Åkesson

In conclusion, Åkesson said: “It’s possible that this healthy diet to some extent can counteract the negative effect of cadmium, but our findings need to be confirmed with further studies. It is, however, important that the exposure to cadmium from all food is low.”