Study Suggests Heavy Metal in Foods, Make-Up Could be Linked to Breast Cancer

Study Suggest Heavy Metal in Foods, Make-Up Could be Linked to Breast CancerProlonged use of the heavy metal cadmium could prompt the growth of breast cancer cells, and may even fuel their ability to spread through the body, the early results of a new study suggest.

According to HealthDay, cadmium is used in a number of items, including cigarette smoke, rechargeable batteries, cosmetics, bread products, root crops and vegetables. It is also used as a farm fertilizer, and has been known to seep into soil and water supplies. Once in the body, cadmium has been noted to act like the female hormone estrogen.

Earlier research has been done to assess the reaction to high levels of cadmium, but the most recent study sought to determine prolonged exposure to low levels of the heavy metal. Maggie Louie, an associate professor of biochemistry at the Dominican University of California, stated that the study is still in its early stages.

"We are trying to figure out if it is the cadmium causing cancer or the cancer attracting the cadmium," she said. "If it is chronic exposure to cadmium that increases breast cancer risk, being aware of other exposures to estrogen and taking steps to minimize these exposures may become important."

A common toxic substance

The findings of the study indicate prolonged cadmium exposure can allow breast cancer cells to pass through the outer barrier of the breast, resulting in spreading.

Dr. Stephanie Bernik, Lenox Hill Hospital's chief of surgical oncology, concurs with the findings.

"If cadmium acts like an estrogen in our bodies, it may contribute to the development of breast cancer," she said.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, cadmium is considered extremely toxic, but is still found in the U.S. in industrial workplaces, especially in those where any ore is being processed or smelted.