Long-term dietary cadmium intake and cancer incidence

Epidemiology. 2012 May;23(3):368-76. doi: 10.1097/EDE.0b013e31824d063c.


Background: Cadmium, a ubiquitous environmental pollutant, is classified as a carcinogenic substance. Several laboratory and epidemiologic studies of workers and subjects in polluted areas have suggested a positive association between cadmium exposure and risk of several cancers. However, data from general populations are sparse. We prospectively examined the association between cadmium exposure and incidence of cancer in a Japanese population with a relatively high dietary intake of cadmium.

Methods: We conducted a population-based prospective study in 90,383 Japanese men and women 45-74 years of age. Participants responded to a validated questionnaire that included 138 food items. We estimated dietary cadmium intake from 6 food groups, based on the questionnaire data. During 9 years of follow-up, 5849 cancer cases were identified. Hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for cancer were calculated by Cox proportional hazards modeling.

Results: There was no evidence of an association of cadmium consumption and total cancer, with HRs in the highest versus lowest cadmium intake group of 0.94 (95% CI = 0.82 to 1.08; test for trend, P = 0.46) for men and 0.96 (0.81 to 1.15; 0.60) for women. No site-specific cancers were associated with cadmium intake in men or women.

Conclusion: We found no associations of cancer with cadmium, at least at the exposure levels observed in a general population in Japan.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cadmium / analysis
  • Cadmium / toxicity*
  • Diet Surveys
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Food Contamination* / analysis
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Japan / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Neoplasms / chemically induced*
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Prospective Studies
  • Registries
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Cadmium