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.