Studies show cadmium can cause cancer

Two studies have found excesses of cancers in people working with cadmium. Workers at a Colorado cadmium smelting plant were fund to have double the expected death rate from lung cancer. They noted: “A statistically significant dose-response relationship was observed between lung cancer mortality and cumulative exposure to cadmium.” This was despite a mandatory respirator programme and improvements in ventilation during the period covered by the study. A second study at a British cadmium-nickel battery plant showed increases in both lung and prostate cancers. While the findings were not statistically significant, the authors conclude there is a definite link between cadmium exposures and death from lung and prostate cancers. The paper notes: “A combination of all the available data from the most recent follow up of causes of death among cadmium workers in six different cohorts shows 28 cases of prostatic cancer (SMR = 162) and 195 cases of lung cancer (SMR = 121). This new analysis suggests that long term, high level exposure to cadmium is associated with an increased risk of cancer.”

MJ Thun and others. Mortality among a cohort of US cadmium production workers – an update. Journal of the National Cancer Institute, volume 74, pages 325-333, 1985.

CG Elinder and others. Cancer mortality of cadmium workers, British Journal of Industrial Medicine

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