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Exposure to toxic heavy metal cadmium accelerates cellular aging


(NaturalNews) Research conducted at the Milken Institute School of Public Health (Milken Institute SPH) at George Washington University has found that exposure to the heavy metal cadmium wreaks havoc on cells, making them age faster and, in turn, accelerating the onset of health complications. The study, which was the largest ever to assess the way cadmium impacts parts of DNA which rest on the ends of chromosomes -- called telomeres -- was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.(1)

Telomeres help preserve the functioning of chromosomes, acting as a protective "barrier" that helps protect the genetic code and, ultimately, helps keep overall health in tact. The longer they are, the more they aid in the process. Shorter ones, however, are an indication that health setbacks are more likely to kick in. While shortening of telomeres is a part of the normal aging process, toxins such as cadmium can render cells unable to divide and, eventually, quicken the development of chronic diseases.(1)

Study affirms that even low levels of heavy metals are dangerous

"We looked at heavy metals in this study and found a strong association between exposure to low levels of cadmium and telomere shortening," said Ami Zota, ScD, MS, an assistant professor of environmental and occupational health at Milken Institute SPH. "Our findings suggest that cadmium exposure can cause premature aging of cells. And they add to other evidence indicating this heavy metal can get into the bloodstream and trigger kidney disease and other health problems."(1)

For the study, Zota and her colleagues examined the blood and urine samples taken from over 6,700 adults who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) for a few years. The telomere lengths of these participants were measured, followed by a measurement of cadmium in the samples. When the adults were broken up into fourths based on the levels of cadmium discovered in the bloodstream, it was discovered that those in the highest cadmium group had telomeres that were approximately 6 percent shorter than those in the lowest group.(1)

"People with the highest cadmium exposure had cells that looked on average 11 years older than their chronological age," Zota said, adding that even people in the highest group of exposure still had very tiny amounts of metal in their bloodstream. "This study adds to evidence suggesting that no level of exposure to this metal is safe."(1)

Sources of cadmium range from contaminated foods to certain children's toys

Cadmium is a toxic heavy metal, which the World Health Organization (WHO) considers a "major public health concern," linking it with a host of health problems from respiratory issues and cancer to cardiovascular disease. According to Zota, those who are commonly exposed to cadmium usually are ones who inhale tobacco smoke, reside near industrial sites and consume fruits and vegetables grown in contaminated soil.(1)

WHO reports that "Food constitutes the main environmental source of cadmium for non-smokers" and that "Some crops, such as rice, can accumulate high concentrations of cadmium if grown on cadmium-polluted soil."(2)

Perhaps what comes to mind for many people are the numerous warnings about rice from China. At one time fairly recently, the Food and Drug Administration of Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong Province, discovered that 8 out of 18 samples of rice tested from restaurants and canteens had cadmium levels exceeding national limits.(3)

Exposure to cadmium involves more than just food, tobacco and industrial site proximity; recent findings have uncovered that it lurks in some popular children's toys.

In a report called "Toxic Tidings," Senator Jeff Klein (D-Bronx) expressed an increased sense of urgency in passing the Child Safe Products Act. Details of the report, which were made public around the 2014 holiday season, mentioned that common children's toys such as pencil cases decorated with Spongebob Squarepants and Dora the Explorer, as well as a Hello Kitty ring set, tested positive for cadmium and cobalt. In this instance, the findings were mainly discovered at various New York dollar stores.(4)

More details about the cadmium and telomere length study, titled "Associations of Cadmium and Lead Exposure With Leukocyte Telomere Length: Findings From National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1999-2002," can be found here.(5)

Sources for this article include:

(1) http://www.eurekalert.org

(2) http://www.who.int[PDF]

(3) http://www.nytimes.com

(4) http://www.nydailynews.com

(5) http://aje.oxfordjournals.org

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