Breast Cancer Link Tied to Cadmium in Diet, Study Finds
The suspected risk factors for breast cancer are legion, and a new study out today examines the link between the cancer and a carcinogenic heavy metal present both in the environment as well as the food supply.
It’s difficult to avoid cadmium- the heavy metal at the focus of the study- as it is nearly omnipresent. As the study notes, shellfish, vegetables, potatoes and whole grains all carry traces of cadmium, which permeates crops and fertilizer through rainfall and sewage. Cadmium is also an airborne pollutant resulting from burning fossil fuels for energy, so when you drive to get fries, you could be exposed to it from several sources.
Cadmium is one of several pollutants that mimic the effects of estrogen, and scientists have long suspected such environmental factors have an impact on breast cancer risk. But while these pollutants could have an effect, scientist also overwhelmingly advocate focusing on controllable factors- such as weight loss and smoking- to best impact cancer rates worldwide.
The Los Angeles Times quotes one researcher who commented on the new breast cancer-cadmium study:
“I wouldn’t recommend to anyone to stop eating vegetables and whole grains,” [UC Davis epidemiologist Irva] Hertz-Picciotto said. “If you were to sit down and do cost-benefit analysis, my intuition is you wouldn’t want to sacrifice the great benefits that we already know about and are quite well established for what at this point needs to be looked at in greater detail.”
The study, undertaken by the American Association for Cancer Research, divided nearly 60,000 post-menopausal women into three groups. Of the group with the highest cadmium levels, breast cancer risk was 21% higher than those in the lowest third.