Exposure to Cadmium
Intervention #17 Exposure to Cadmium
- Cadmium has no beneficial role in the human body.
- Cadmium exerts toxic effects even at low levels of exposure.
- Some evidence suggests it is a reproductive toxicant mostly in men.
- More studies are required to better understand the impact of cadmium in reproduction.
What is Cadmium?
Cadmium (Cd) is a non-essential toxic heavy metal. It is used in industrial activities such as the manufacture of nickel-cadmium batteries, electroplating, pigments, ceramics, plastic stabilizers, and fertilizers, as well as in other industrial, mining, agricultural activities and in the widespread use of phosphate-based fertilizers. After cadmium enters the environment, it pollutes air and water and at last is discharged into the food chain, detrimentally affecting living organisms.
It is toxic to human health at a low concentrations, and it has no known beneficial role in the human body.
Studies have shown that in humans, cadmium can be absorbed into the body through the gastrointestinal, respiratory and dermal systems.
The major source of inhaled cadmium intoxication is smoking, and the human lung absorbs 40-60% of the cadmium content in cigarette smoke. As a result, smokers receive a dose of cadmium daily and generally have cadmium blood levels 4-5 times more than those of non-smokers.
In non-smokers, most uptake of cadmium is through cadmium contaminated drinking water and food, particularly cereals, such as rice and wheat, and also seafood, potato and green leafy vegetables.
Impact on Female Fertility
- Cadmium may affect fertility and fecundity via alterations in reproductive hormones or through oxidative stress and inflammatory pathways.
- Findings are suggestive that cadmium may play a role in pregnancy-related hypertensive disease, including preeclampsia, but additional research is needed to clarify these associations.
- Impairs female reproduction and reproductive hormonal balance and affects menstrual cycles.
- Conflicting evidence on the impact of cadmium in the female reproductive system and more studies are needed.
Impact on Male Fertility
- Exposure affects human male reproductive organs/system and deteriorates spermatogenesis, semen quality especially sperm motility and hormonal synthesis/release.
- Researchers report that high concentration of reactive oxygen species (ROS), generated by accumulation of cadmium in testicular tissue, exceeds the antioxidant capability of the testis cells, leading to lipid peroxidation, degeneration of seminiferous tubules, testicular haemorrhage, testicular necrosis, abnormal Leydig cells, fibrosis and reduced testicular size.
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