Dietary cadmium intake and risk of breast, endometrial and ovarian cancer in Danish postmenopausal women: a prospective cohort study

PLoS One. 2014 Jun 25;9(6):e100815. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0100815. eCollection 2014.


Purpose: Cadmium is a human lung carcinogen and possesses estrogen-like activity. This combination of carcinogenic and estrogenic activity makes cadmium a contaminant of high concern for hormone-related cancers. Diet and smoking are the main sources of cadmium exposure. The aim of this study was to investigate the association between dietary cadmium intake and risk of breast, endometrial and ovarian cancer in Danish postmenopausal woman.

Methods: We estimated dietary cadmium intake in the Diet, Cancer and Health cohort at enrolment 1993-97. The estimates were based on food frequency questionnaires and cadmium contents in all foods. Among 23,815 postmenopausal women we identified 1390 breast, 192 endometrial, and 146 ovarian cancer cases from enrolment through December 31, 2010 using the Danish Cancer Registry. Cox regression was used to analyse the association between dietary cadmium intake and cancer risk.

Results: Mean dietary cadmium intake was 14 µg/day. Cadmium was not associated with breast cancer, incidence rate ratio (IRR) = 0.99, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.87-1.13 per 10 µg higher dietary cadmium intake/day; endometrial cancer, IRR = 1.08, 95% CI: 0.76-1.53; or ovarian cancer, IRR = 1.15, 95% CI: 0.78-1.70. We found a positive association between cadmium and endometrial cancer for the women with BMI<25 (IRR = 1.50, 95% CI: 0.94-2.39), whereas an inverse association was seen for the women with BMI≥25 (IRR = 0.69, 95% CI: 0.42-1.12); p value for interaction = 0.02.

Conclusions: Our study does not indicate that our estimated dietary cadmium intake is associated with hormone-related cancers in women.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use*
  • Breast Neoplasms / chemically induced
  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Cadmium / administration & dosage
  • Cadmium / adverse effects*
  • Cadmium Poisoning / epidemiology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Endometrial Neoplasms / chemically induced
  • Endometrial Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Lymphatic Metastasis
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Grading
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / drug therapy
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / pathology
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / chemically induced
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Postmenopause
  • Prognosis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors


  • Cadmium