Two recent studies reported in "Science News" (July 19, 2003, p. 38,
Vol. 164, N0. 3) have disclosed two previously unknown effects of
cadmium that emphasize the need for jewelers and metal smiths to
avoid cadmium containing materials.
The first study, carried out by Mary Marten of Georgetown University
in Washington, D.C., showed that trace amounts of cadmium can have
effects analogous to effects due to estrogen. Female rats injected
with cadmium chloride developed uterine and mammary gland changes
typically seen with estrogen increases. These changes occurred in
rats whose ovaries had been removed and were, therefore, not making
their own estrogen. The conclusion reached was that cadmium can
increase unwanted cell growth by acting in the role of estrogen.
The second study, carried out by Dmitry Gordenin at the National
Institute of Environmental Health Sciences located in Research
Triangle Park, N.C., demonstrated that low concentrations of cadmium
cause an extremely high rate of genetic mutations in yeast. The
cadmium causes the mutations by inhibiting the cell's natural
built-in DNA repair mechanisms. The repair mechanisms normally
correct errors occurring in the replication process that replaces
DNA in those cells which multiply to replace cells which die off
Cadmium is present in soil (0.11 ppm in the earths crust) and is
thus present in foods. These foods are the primary source of the 50
mg of cadmium present in the average (70 kg) person. The metal is
one of the largest contaminants in tobacco smoke. The DNA link to
cadmium probably explains the mechanism operating in lung cancers
attributed to smoking.
"Marlinespike Seamanship in Precious Metals"