Dietary cadmium could be linked to breast cancer

Dietary cadmium could be linked to breast cancer

What did you have for breakfast this morning? Maybe some cereal with sliced banana, or eggs and toast with a side of orange juice … or cadmium? The toxic and potentially carcinogenic metal used in fertilizer is making the trip from farmland to food, showing up in breads, cereals, potatoes, root crops and vegetables. Cadmium has been linked to learning disabilities in kids, and now a study published in the journal Cancer Research shows it may contribute to breast cancer, as well.

The study followed almost 56,000 Swedish women for more than 12 years and found that those with the highest level of exposure to cadmium had a 21 percent increased risk of developing breast cancer. The concern with cadmium is that it can mimic estrogen, which in high levels stimulates breast cancer growth. The risk is stronger for estrogen-receptor positive breast cancer.

Scientists also found that the risk was higher in normal-weight and lean women than in overweight women, but whatever your weight, researchers say it’s no reason to avoid whole grains and veggies. In fact, the abundant antioxidants available in these foods may outweigh the hazards of cadmium. The World Health Organization recommends ingesting no more than 25 micrograms of cadmium per kilogram of body weight each month. For a 120-pound woman, that’s about 45 micrograms a day.

The researchers stress that the correlation between cadmium and cancer does not prove that exposure to the chemical causes the disease. But it’s still smart to steer clear of cadmium. Your best bet is to go organic. Also avoid toys and jewelry products made in China, which have been found to contain high levels of cadmium. And if you need one more reason to quit smoking, know that tobacco smoke is chock full of the stuff. Clearing your environment and diet of cadmium could help keep your health in check.


Related Episodes