by Sudha Bhat on  November 20, 2014 at 12:30 PM Health Watch
Cadmium Exposure and Incidence of Diabetes, Is There a Link Between Cadmium Exposure and Diabetes?
There is no need to sugarcoat anything when it comes to diabetics as they are naturally sweet. It is common knowledge that most of the food you eat turns into sugar or glucose which gives energy to your body. One of the organs near the stomach, called as pancreas, produces a hormone called insulin, which helps glucose to enter into different cells in your body. In a diabetic however, the body neither makes enough insulin nor uses its own insulin as well as it should which in turn causes sugar to build up in your blood.

The growing incidence of type 2 diabetes across the globe suggests that environmental toxins may cause diabetes. Researchers say that there could be a link between environmental heavy metal exposure and a number of chronic diseases such as depression, hypertension, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Cadmium is one such heavy metal and environmental nephrotoxic pollutant, which is known to cause pancreatic cancer. It is reported to accumulate in the pancreas and exert diabetogenic effects in animals.

The Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES 1988-1994) in the United States showed a link between cadmium exposure and pancreatic cancer and found some evidence that cadmium might be associated with increased risk of diabetes. The authors conducted a cross-sectional study to show that the urinary cadmium level was associated with impaired fasting glucose (IFG) and diabetes. There are a numerous physiological mechanisms by which cadmium could alter blood glucose levels. It could affect glucose metabolism by acting on a variety of different organs such as pancreas, liver, adipose tissue and the adrenal gland.

Another study was conducted by Yan Borne et al which was published in the journal Plos One. The purpose of their study was to explore if elevated blood cadmium levels are associated with increased incidence of diabetes in middle-aged, normal men and women. 4585 subjects in the age group of 46 to 67 years, who had no prior history of diabetes participated in the study. These participants participated in the Malm÷ Diet and Cancer study during 1991-1994. Blood cadmium levels were reportedly estimated from hematocrit and cadmium concentrations in erythrocytes.

It was seen that a total of 622 individuals (299 men and 323 women) had diabetes during a mean follow-up of 15.2▒4.2 years. It was also observed that baseline HbA1c was positively associated with cadmium (4.7% vs 4.9% for men and 4.7% vs 5.0% for women in the 1st compared to 4th quartile, p<0.001).

The results of the study showed that blood cadmium was associated with HbA1c but there was no significant relationship between cadmium and levels of blood glucose and serum insulin. Elevated blood cadmium levels were not seen to be associated with increased incidence of diabetes. The positive association between HbA1c and blood cadmium levels are most likely related to erythrocyte turnover and smoking. Further study is needed in this field to conclusively prove Cd-induced changes in blood glucose levels, pancreatic β-cell damage.

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