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Cadmium in food chain and health effects in sensitive population groups


Even at the low exposure level of cadmium found in this study population living on farms in southern Sweden, there was an indication of effect on biochemical markers of renal function. Women had higher blood cadmium (BCd) and urinary cadmium (UCd) than men, which can be explained by higher absorption of Cd due to low iron status. In the present study, Cd in pig kidneys could not be used to predict human BCd or UCd even though cereals are a substantial part of both the human and the pig diet. The contribution of Cd from locally produced food to the total dietary intake in humans was relatively low and varied and the intake of Cd did not correlate with BCd or UCd. In contrast, Cd levels in pig kidney were significantly related to Cd levels in feed. However, there was no relationship between the locally produced cereals, constituting the main part of the feed, and Cd in pig kidneys. In pig feed, other non-locally produced ingredients contributed to a large part of the Cd in feed. The Cd in non-locally produced feed ingredients reaches the local circulation via excretion in faeces and application of manure to arable soils and will lead to increased levels in the crops. As indicated by experimental data from animals, neurochemical and neurobehavioral effects during development need to be further explored as sensitive endpoints for cadmium toxicity.

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Oskarsson, A., Widell, A., Olsson, IM. et al. Cadmium in food chain and health effects in sensitive population groups. Biometals 17, 531–534 (2004).

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  • cadmium
  • food chain
  • kidney
  • neurotoxicity
  • pig