Chromium exposure and incidence of metabolic syndrome among American young adults over a 23-year follow-up: the CARDIA Trace Element Study

Sci Rep. 2015 Oct 22;5:15606. doi: 10.1038/srep15606.


Studies suggest that chromium deficiency is associated with elevated levels of fasting blood glucose, circulating insulin, cholesterol and triglycerides, and decreased proportion of lean body mass. However, data directly relating chromium levels to metabolic syndrome (MetS) risk are lacking. A total of 3,648 American adults from the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study, aged 20-32 years, were prospectively examined for the incidence of MetS and its five components from 1987-88 to 2010-11. Baseline toenail chromium levels were measured with instrumental neutron-activation analysis. Incident MetS was defined by the NCEP-ATP III criteria. During the 23-year follow-up, 878 incident MetS cases were identified. Baseline toenail chromium was inversely associated with incidence of MetS as well as its blood lipid components. The multivariable-adjusted hazard ratio (HR) (95% confidence interval [CI]) of MetS comparing the highest to the lowest quartiles of toenail chromium levels was 0.80 (0.66-0.98; Plinear trend = 0.006). The adjusted HRs were 0.82 (0.68-0.98; Ptrend = 0.045) for having abnormal triglycerides levels and 0.75 (0.64-0.88; Ptrend = 0.030) for having abnormal HDL cholesterol levels. Toenail chromium levels were inversely and longitudinally associated with incidence of MetS in American young adults. This inverse association was mainly explained by its relation to blood lipids.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Glucose
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / blood*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / chemically induced
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Chromium / blood
  • Chromium / toxicity*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Insulin / blood
  • Male
  • Metabolic Syndrome / blood*
  • Metabolic Syndrome / chemically induced
  • Metabolic Syndrome / epidemiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Triglycerides / blood*
  • United States
  • Young Adult


  • Blood Glucose
  • Insulin
  • Triglycerides
  • Chromium