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Is urinary cadmium a biomarker of long-term exposure in humans? A review

Cadmium is a naturally-occurring element, and humans are exposed from cigarettes, food, and industrial sources. Following exposure, cadmium accumulates in the kidney and is slowly released into the urine, usually proportionally to the levels found in the kidneys. Cadmium levels in a single spot urine sample have been considered indicative of long-term exposure to cadmium; however, such a potentially exceptional biomarker requires careful scrutiny. In this review, we report good to excellent temporal stability of urinary cadmium (intraclass correlation coefficient 0.66-0.81) regardless of spot urine or first morning void sampling. Factors such as changes in smoking habits and diseases characterized by increased excretion of proteins may produce short-term changes in urinary cadmium levels. We recommend that epidemiologists use this powerful biomarker in prospective studies stratified by smoking status, along with thoughtful consideration of additional factors that can influence renal physiology and cadmium excretion.


Vacchi-Suzzi, C., Kruse, D., Harrington, J., Levine, K., & Meliker, J. R. (2016). Is urinary cadmium a biomarker of long-term exposure in humans? A review. Current environmental health reports, 3(4), 450-458. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40572-016-0107-y

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