Dietary cadmium intake and breast cancer risk in Japanese women: a case-control study

Int J Hyg Environ Health. 2014 Jan;217(1):70-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ijheh.2013.03.010. Epub 2013 Mar 30.


Cadmium, an environmental pollutant, may act like an estrogen and be a potential risk factor for estrogen-dependent diseases such as breast cancer. We examined the hypothesis that higher dietary cadmium intake is associated with risk of overall and hormone receptor-defined breast cancer in Japanese women, a population with a relatively high cadmium intake. The study was conducted under a case-control design in 405 eligible matched pairs from May 2001 to September 2005 at four hospitals in Nagano Prefecture, Japan. Dietary cadmium intake was estimated using a food frequency questionnaire. Multivariable-adjusted odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) of breast cancer and its hormone-receptor-defined subtypes were calculated by tertile of dietary cadmium intake. We found no significant association between dietary cadmium and risk of total breast cancer in either crude or multivariable-adjusted analysis. Adjusted ORs for tertiles of cadmium intake were 1.00, 1.19, and 1.23 (95% CI, 0.76-2.00; P for trend=0.39) for whole breast cancer. Further, no significant associations were seen across strata of menopausal status, smoking, and diabetes in multivariable-adjusted models except for adjusted OR for continuous cadmium intake in postmenopausal women. A statistically significant association was found for estrogen receptor-positive (ER+) tumors among postmenopausal women (adjusted OR=1.00, 1.16, and 1.94 [95% CI, 1.04-3.63; P for trend=0.032]). Although the present study found no overall association between dietary cadmium intake and breast cancer risk, higher cadmium intake was associated with increased risk of ER+ breast cancer in postmenopausal women, at least at regular intake levels in Japanese women in the general population. Further studies are needed to confirm this association.

Keywords: Endocrine disrupter; Epidemiology; Estrogen-mimicking; Heavy metal; Hormone receptor.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Cadmium / analysis*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Diet*
  • Environmental Pollutants / analysis*
  • Female
  • Food Contamination
  • Humans
  • Japan / epidemiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Risk


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Cadmium