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Research ties cadmium to lung cancer

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http://education.guardian.co.uk/higher/ ... 75,00.html

Polly Curtis, health correspondent

Monday January 16, 2006

The Guardian

Researchers have proved the first direct link between the build-up of industrial emissions of cadmium in the environment and lung cancer.

The metal has long been associated with higher risks of cancer but the Belgian study, published today on the Lancet website, is the first to link the accumulation of cadmium in the environment with higher rates of cancer. Previous studies have proved the link in animals and its effect on people working in close contact with cadmium.

The researchers followed nearly 1,000 people living in north-east Belgium since 1985. Half lived in areas close to three zinc smelters where exposure was high while the others lived in low exposure areas. By June 2004 19 had died of lung cancer; 15 of them lived in the high exposure areas.

The Belgian study traced cadmium levels in the soils of the participant's gardens and measured their urine to calculate the build-up of cadmium in their bodies. The metal accumulates in the body over time, particularly in the kidneys.

The study, authored by Jan Staessen at the University of Leuven in Belgium, concluded: "We have shown a significant association between risk of lung cancer and environmental exposure to cadmium. To our knowledge, this is the first time such an association has been reported in an environmentally exposed population."

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