Science

High Cadmium Levels Linked To Liver Disease

By Enozia Vakil , May 14, 2013 07:43 AM EDT
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Occupational health hazards are probably the most difficult to treat, considering the long-term exposure to disease-causing agents and the further exposure that an individual may suffer from.

The new study conducted by the scientists at Johns Hopkins claimed that elevated cadmium levels, when found in the urine, often symbolize a chronic exposure to some heavy metals and industrial emissions, which may raise the risk of a person suffering from liver disease upto 3.5 percent.

The study was actually a large population-based survey, which took in 12,732 participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, followed by numerous physical examinations including interviews, blood and urine tests, and ultrasound scans. They evaluated the severity of the liver disease based on two facts –– the cadmium concentration in urine, and the ultrasound scans showing the extent of liver disease.

Further study showed that individuals having the highest level of exposure to cadmium were nearly 3.5 times more likely to die of a liver disease.

Also, this study shed light on an important fact –– men are more likely to suffer from the adverse effects of cadmium toxicity than women. The reason? The menopausal chemistry of women helps redistribute the cadmium stored in the liver and kidneys, which can be potentially harmful, to the bones, where it can remain much more stable.

Chronic exposure to cadmium and other heavy metals are common among workers in the metal industry, posing serious health risks, some of which include non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, lung cancer, kidney disease and more.

"We already know about the health hazards of heavy metals like lead and mercury, but we don't know much about what cadmium does to the body," study leader Omar Hyder, M.D., a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said. "In mice, chronic cadmium exposure has been shown to cause liver failure, but we need to understand more about the factors that may cause liver disease in humans, and whether we can do anything to prevent it."

Small efforts made to reduce exposure to these toxic substances can certainly cut down the risk of many diseases. 

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