Cadmium-induced effects on bone in a population-based study of women

A Akesson, P Bjellerup, Thomas Lundh, Jonas Lidfeldt, Christina Nerbrand, Göran Samsioe, Staffan Skerfving, M Vahter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


High cadmium exposure is known to cause bone damage, but the association between low-level cadmium exposure and osteoporosis remains to be clarified. Using a population-based women's health survey in southern Sweden [Women's Health in the Lund Area (WHILA)] with no known historical cadmium contamination, we investigated cadmium-related effects on bone in 820 women (53-64 years of age). We measured cadmium in blood and urine and lead in blood, an array of markers of bone metabolism, and forearm bone mineral density (BMD). Associations were evaluated in multiple linear regression analysis including information on the possible confounders or effect modifiers: weight, menopausal status, use of hormone replacement therapy, age at menarche, alcohol consumption, smoking history, and physical activity. Median urinary cadmium was 0.52 mu g/L adjusted to density (0.67 mu g/g creatinine). After multivariate adjustment, BMD, parathyroid hormone, and urinary deoxypyridinoline (U-DPD) were adversely associated with concentrations of urinary cadmium (p < 0.05) in all subjects. These associations persisted in the group of never-smokers, which had the lowest cadmium exposure (mainly dietary). For U-DPD, there was a significant interaction between cadmium and menopause (p = 0.022). Our results suggest negative effects of low-level cadmium exposure on bone, possibly exerted via increased bone resorption, which seemed to be intensified after menopause. Based on the prevalence of osteoporosis and the low level of exposure, the observed effects, although slight, should be considered as early signals of potentially more adverse health effects.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)830-834
JournalEnvironmental Health Perspectives
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2006

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Environmental Health and Occupational Health


  • women
  • bone mineral density
  • osteoporosis
  • biochemical bone markers
  • lead
  • cadmium


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