You are regularly warned about the harmful effects of aluminum or lead ... But there is another metal that can seriously harm your health and that is not talked about enough. Focus on cadmium, a metal that hurts.
Cadmium: but who is it?
Cadmium is a metal, found in soil, rocks, water and air, prized for its anti-corrosion properties. Since the beginning of the 20th century, it has been used in the manufacture of alkaline cells, batteries, fuses, ball bearings, metal dishes for freezing, heat-resistant plastics, etc.
It is part of what is called "heavy metals". It accumulates in the body throughout our lives and is excreted extremely slowly via the urine and feces.
Whenever we ingest cadmium, some of it is stored in our kidneys, lungs and liver, causing irreversible damage in too large a dose.
Modes of contamination by cadmium
As mentioned above, cadmium is present in soil, rocks, water and air. Through this, it contaminates plants and animals, ending up in our food. The most contaminated foods are seafood, fish, meat (especially in offal: liver and kidney), cereals, fruits and vegetables.
Another mode of contamination is smoking. Cadmium, found in cigarettes, is a volatile metal. It passes into the smoke and is inhaled by smokers. Note that absorption via the respiratory tract is important (50%).
In some occupations, contamination can also occur via inhalation of dust or fumes.
Cadmium intoxication can be acute or chronic. Acute intoxication can cause respiratory (severe lung irritation, chemical pneumonitis, pulmonary edema), digestive (irritation of the gastrointestinal epithelium, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea), renal, and neurotoxic effects (decreased attention, speed, memory, peripheral neuropathy).
Chronic intoxication is manifested by an impairment of the general condition, especially at the respiratory (emphysema, dyspnea) and renal (nephropathy, renal failure, ...), causing permanent damage, even if the exposure ceases.
Other adverse health effects of cadmium
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) considers cadmium and its compounds to be carcinogenic to humans (Lung, kidney, prostate cancers, ...).
Some experts also classify cadmium as an endocrine disruptor. Children between the ages of 3 and 9 are at greatest risk because their food consumption is large relative to their weight, making them prime targets.
Agricultural pollution in question
Industrial agricultural production is largely responsible for human cadmium contamination. Chemical fertilizers, sludge from sewage treatment plants, waste from the metallurgy industry, ... contaminate the soil and the food that grows in it (cereals, fruits, vegetables, potatoes, ...). It is therefore important to change the way we eat in order to limit the sources of contamination.
The best way to do it? Consume as much organic food as possible!
So what to do?
- Various studies have shown that it is possible to decrease cadmium in the body, including by regularly eating foods rich in zinc.
- Consuming antioxidants on a regular basis also combats the pro-oxidant effect of heavy metals, of which cadmium is one.
- Another way to reduce exposure to cadmium is to reduce or even stop smoking.
Let us recall the cadmium inhaled is stored by the body at a rate of 50%.
In any case, if you modify your diet and lifestyle, you can limit the sources of contamination and even reduce the levels of cadmium in your body.