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J Toxicol Environ Health B Crit Rev. 2003 May-Jun;6(3):227-55.

Cadmium, lung and prostate cancer: a systematic review of recent epidemiological data.

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Industrial Toxicology and Occupational Medicine Unit, School of Public Health, Université catholique de Louvain, Brussels, Belgium.


Cadmium (Cd) and its compounds were classified as "carcinogenic to humans (Group 1)" by IARC in 1993. The observation of an increased number of lung cancers in a U.S. cohort of cadmium-exposed workers and the finding of tumors in animals exposed to various cadmium compounds apparently played an important role in this assessment. Since this evaluation, several cohorts of cadmium exposed workers have been updated and some additional data regarding environmental exposure to cadmium and cancer risk have been published. The main purpose of this systematic review was to examine whether inclusion of the studies that were not available for the 1993 evaluation might change the overall assessment of the carcinogenic potential of cadmium compounds. A second objective was to examine whether the recent studies are qualitatively better than the older ones and whether they should receive more weight in this assessment. A third issue was to investigate whether a competing effect between nonmalignant respiratory disease (NMRD) and lung cancer may have affected the results for lung cancer in occupationally exposed cohorts. Overall, considering the results of the most recent studies does not suggest that the effect of cadmium on lung cancer increases with improvement of the study design but points to a lower relative risk in the groups exposed to cadmium in the absence of arsenic and nickel. No evidence was found to support the hypothesis that NMRD represents a competing cause of death reducing the mortality from lung cancer. The association between cadmium exposure and prostate cancer was not confirmed in the latest available updates. Studies in environmentally exposed populations do not indicate an increased relative risk of cancer.

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