Cadmium a metalloestrogen: are we convinced?

J Appl Toxicol. 2012 May;32(5):318-32. doi: 10.1002/jat.1771. Epub 2011 Dec 12.


Metalloestrogens are inorganic metal ions that bind to and activate oestrogen receptors. They are implicated in the aetiology of oestrogen-dependent diseases such as cancers of the breast and endometrium as well as endometriosis. Cadmium is one of the most studied metalloestrogens. In this review, scientific evidence for the oestrogenic effects of cadmium is critically evaluated to determine if there is sufficient evidence to support cadmium as an aetiological factor of oestrogen-dependent disease in humans. Results of the review indicated that, although the in vitro and in vivo evidence of the oestrogenic properties of cadmium was persuasive, evidence from population-based human studies remains conflicting. Considerable knowledge gaps exist on the potential oestrogenic effect of cadmium in humans. Research that focuses on bridging these knowledge gaps would be useful in preventing and managing oestrogen-dependent disease in humans.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Breast / drug effects
  • Breast / metabolism
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Cadmium / metabolism
  • Cadmium / toxicity*
  • Chick Embryo
  • Estrogens / metabolism
  • Estrogens / toxicity*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Metals, Heavy / metabolism
  • Metals, Heavy / toxicity*
  • Mice
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Receptors, Estrogen / metabolism
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Estrogens
  • Metals, Heavy
  • Receptors, Estrogen
  • Cadmium