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Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2009 Aug 1;238(3):266-71. doi: 10.1016/j.taap.2009.03.025. Epub 2009 Apr 9.

Cadmium--a metallohormone?

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Department of Oncology, Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, Georgetown University, Washington, DC 20007, USA.


Cadmium is a heavy metal that is often referred to as the metal of the 20th century. It is widely used in industry principally in galvanizing and electroplating, in batteries, in electrical conductors, in the manufacture of alloys, pigments, and plastics, and in the stabilization of phosphate fertilizers. As a byproduct of smelters, cadmium is a prevalent environmental contaminant. In the general population, exposure to cadmium occurs primarily through dietary sources, cigarette smoking, and, to a lesser degree, drinking water. Although the metal has no known physiological function, there is evidence to suggest that the cadmium is a potent metallohormone. This review summarizes the increasing evidence that cadmium mimics the function of steroid hormones, addresses our current understanding of the mechanism by which cadmium functions as a hormone, and discusses its potential role in development of the hormone dependent cancers.

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