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CASCADE study sheds light on susepcted endocrine disruptive effects of cadmium


A newly published study from CASCADEís Bread project suggests that cadmium has estrogenic effects which might not be visible in ordinary test systems. The next step is to study the whole food item - bread samples containing cadmium.


Cadmium is ubiquitously present in our environment and humans are exposed to this metal mainly through diet. Plants take up cadmium via the roots from the soil, which leads to plant-based foods being the major source of dietary cadmium. So paradoxically, the recommended healthy diet rich in whole grain cereals and vegetables is the main contributor in our life-long cadmium exposure.


Cadmium has recently been suspected to have endocrine disruptive activity at low exposure levels. This study shows that inorganic cadmium, given in the form of a cadmium salt, indeed possesses estrogen-like activity when administered to mice at low doses, but the effects are limited when compared to natural steroidal estrogens. Such selective stimulation of only a part of the estrogen response pathway by cadmium might explain why the estrogen-like effects of cadmium have not been observed in all test systems so far.


The first publication within the CASCADE's bread project gives a new mechanistic perspective to previous findings suggesting that cadmium has estrogen-like activity in vivo. However, the results do not allow conclusions to be made on the effects of cadmium present in human diet, because dietary cadmium differs in the chemical form and bioavailability from inorganic cadmium salts used in the present study. Nevertheless,†the results give very important clues on the mode of action of cadmium and will thereby ease the follow-up studies dedicated to studying the effects of cadmium present in the human diet. It is very important to study whole food items as such when risks of food associated substances are evaluated.


In the next phase of the project bread samples containing cadmium will be studied in the same ERE-luc reporter mouse model in which estrogenicity of inorganic cadmium was assessed. Such studies are exactly what CASCADE aims at, i.e. to study whole food items in order to evaluate the risks of chemical substances present in the human diet.



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For more information on the CASCADE Bread project, please contact Dr. Pauliina Damdimopoulou††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††