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Low level exposure to cadmium and early kidney damage: the OSCAR study

Abstract

OBJECTIVES To study the dose-response relation between cadmium dose and renal tubular damage in a population of workers and people environmentally or occupationally exposed to low concentrations of cadmium.

METHODS Early kidney damage in 1021 people, occupationally or environmentally exposed to cadmium, was assessed from cadmium in urine to estimate dose, and protein HC (α1-microglobulin) in urine to assess tubular proteinuria.

RESULTS There was an age and sex adjusted correlation between cadmium in urine and urinary protein HC. The prevalence of tubular proteinuria ranged from 5% among unexposed people to 50% in the most exposed group. The corresponding prevalence odds ratio was 6.0 (95% confidence interval (95% CI) 1.6 to 22) for the highest exposure group, adjusted for age and sex. Multiple logistic regression analysis showed an increasing prevalence of tubular proteinuria with urinary cadmium as well as with age. After adjustment to the mean age of the study population (53 years), the results show an increased prevalence of 10% tubular proteinuria (taking into account a background prevalence of 5%) at a urinary cadmium concentration of 1.0 nmol/mmol creatinine.

CONCLUSION Renal tubular damage due to exposure to cadmium develops at lower levels of cadmium body burden than previously anticipated.

  • cadmium
  • environmental
  • tubular damage
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