, Volume 17, Issue 5, pp 559-566

Effects on the prostate of environmental cadmium exposure – A cross-sectional population study in China

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To explore possible effects of environmental cadmium exposure on prostate in humans, and the possible relationship of serum sex hormones to occurrence of clinic signs of tissue changes in the prostate, a case-control study was undertaken in the southeast part of China in 1998. A total of 297 male volunteers from a control area and two cadmium-polluted areas were included as subjects in this study. All the subjects were required to answer a questionnaire and to undergo a complete physical examination including digital-rectal examination (DRE). Blood and urine samples were collected. Serum total prostate specific antigen (PSA), total serum testosterone (T), follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) were measured by radioimmunoassay and enzymeimmunoassay method, respectively. The data of urinary cadmium (U-Cd) and blood cadmium (B-Cd) were obtained by atomic absorption spectrometry (AAS) as an indicator of cadmium body burden. Statistical analysis was applied to investigate a possible relation between cadmium exposure and prostate pathological changes. The results show that there is a clear dose-response relationship between cadmium exposure and the prevalence of cases with abnormal PSA. The blood cadmium content in cases with positive DRE was significantly higher than that of subjects with negative DRE (P<0.05). Significant differences in the level of FSH between cases with positive DRE and the normal subjects were also noted (P<0.05). These results indicate that chronic environmental cadmium exposure is associated with injuries to human prostate. A possible relationship to changes in circulating sex hormones needs further investigation.