EFSA: Cadmium in food - Scientific opinion of the Panel on Contaminants in the Food Chain
Adopted: 30 January 2009
Cadmium (Cd) is a heavy metal found as an environmental contaminant, both through natural occurrence and from industrial and agricultural sources. Foodstuffs are the main source of cadmium exposure for the non-smoking general population. Cadmium absorption after dietary exposure in humans is relatively low (3–5 %) but cadmium is efficiently retained in the kidney and liver in the human body, with a very long biological half-life ranging from 10 to 30 years. Cadmium is primarily toxic to the kidney, especially to the proximal tubular cells where it accumulates over time and may cause renal dysfunction. Cadmium can also cause bone demineralisation, either through direct bone damage or indirectly as a result of renal dysfunction. After prolonged and/or high exposure the tubular damage may progress to decreased glomerular filtration rate, and eventually to renal failure. The International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified cadmium as a human carcinogen (Group 1) on the basis of occupational studies. Newer data on human exposure to cadmium in the general population have been statistically associated with increased risk of cancer such as in the lung, endometrium, bladder, and breast.
Cadmium bioavailability, retention and consequently toxicity are affected by several factors such as nutritional status (low body iron stores) and multiple pregnancies, preexisting health conditions or diseases.