Epidemiological metaanalysis cadmium

Project No. BIA 0060


completed 03/2001


This meta-analysis summarizes the results of epidemiological studies into a suspected relationship between cadmium exposure and lung/prostate cancer. The results of epidemiological studies suggest that cadmium and cadmium compounds may have a carcinogenic effect upon humans. In particular, reports from different sources speak of an increased risk of lung and prostate tumours. These studies do not however yield uniform results. A literature search for relevant epidemiological studies on the subject produced approximately 250 papers. Only the latest studies of a cohort were employed for the summary. A significant relationship between the cadmium dose and lung cancer was found only in persons who have worked in departments with simultaneous high exposure to arsenic. No such relationship was found in persons exposed to cadmium but not to arsenic. In conclusion, an increased risk of tumours resulting from occupational exposure to cadmium cannot be extrapolated reliably from the epidemiological studies available at this stage.


Published studies were searched in the relevant literature databases. The original papers were studied and selected. 25 publications were analysed for study design, exposure, confounders and calculated risks. A qualitative and quantitative review of the studies (metaanalysis) was made.


First results (Bochmann 1998) show that a relationship between cadmium exposure and an increased risk for tumours could not be confirmed. A combined exposure of arsenic and cadmium seems to increase the risk for lung and prostate cancer.

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Financed by:
  • Hauptverband der gewerblichen Berufsgenossenschaften - HVBG
Research institution(s):
  • Berufsgenossenschaftliches Institut für Arbeitssicherheit - BIA
  • Sankt Augustin
  • Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität
  • Bonn
  • Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum
  • Heidelberg
  • Hessisches Ministerium für Frauen
  • Arbeit und Sozialordnung
  • Wiesbaden
  • Institut für Arbeits- und Sozialhygiene
  • Chemnitz

-cross sectoral-

Type of hazard:

Arbeitsbedingte Erkrankungen, Arbeitsbedingte Gesundheitsgefahren


Krebserregende Stoffe, Gefährdungsbeurteilung, Exposition

Description, key words:

metaanalysis, cadmium, cancer, cancer risk, risk assessment, lung neoplasm, prostate neoplasm, epidemiology