Dietary cadmium intake and the risk of cancer: a meta-analysis

PLoS One. 2013 Sep 17;8(9):e75087. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0075087. eCollection 2013.


Background: Diet is a major source of cadmium intake among the non-smoking general population. Recent studies have determined that cadmium exposure may produce adverse health effects at lower exposure levels than previously predicted. We conducted a meta-analysis to combine and analyze the results of previous studies that have investigated the association of dietary cadmium intake and cancer risk.

Methods: We searched PubMed, EMBASE, and MEDLINE database for case-control and cohort studies that assessed the association of dietary cadmium intake and cancer risk. We performed a meta-analysis using eight eligible studies to summarize the data and summary relative risks (RRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated using a random effects model.

Results: Overall, dietary cadmium intake showed no statistically significant association with cancer risk (RR = 1.10; 95% CI: 0.99-1.22, for highest vs. lowest dietary cadmium group). However, there was strong evidence of heterogeneity, and subgroup analyses were conducted using the study design, geographical location, and cancer type. In subgroup analyses, the positive associations between dietary cadmium intake and cancer risk were observed among studies with Western populations (RR = 1.15; 95% CI: 1.08-1.23) and studies investigating some hormone-related cancers (prostate, breast, and endometrial cancers).

Conclusion: Our analysis found a positive association between dietary cadmium intake and cancer risk among studies conducted in Western countries, particularly with hormone-related cancers. Additional experimental and epidemiological studies are required to verify our findings.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Cadmium*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cohort Studies
  • Diet*
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Publication Bias
  • Risk


  • Cadmium

Grant support

This research was supported by a grant from Korea Food and Drug Administration (10162KFDA994). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.