Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Human exposure to metal cadmium may accelerate cellular aging

11.12.2014

A new study led by a researcher at Milken Institute School of Public Health (Milken Institute SPH) at the George Washington University looks at the metal cadmium and finds that higher human exposure can lead to significantly shorter telomeres, bits of DNA at the ends of chromosomes that are associated with cardiovascular disease, diabetes and other diseases of old age. The study, which was published online today in the American Journal of Epidemiology, is the largest-ever to look at cadmium exposure and telomeres.

"We looked at heavy metals in this study and found a strong association between exposure to low levels of cadmium and telomere shortening," says 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."

The World Health Organization calls environmental exposure to cadmium a "major public health concern," and notes this heavy metal has been associated with cardiovascular disease, respiratory problems, cancer and other serious diseases. People typically are exposed to small amounts of this toxic metal by inhaling tobacco smoke, eating fruits and vegetables grown in contaminated soil or living near an industrial site, according to Zota.

In this study, Zota and her colleagues looked at blood and urine samples taken from more than 6,700 adults who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) from 1999 to 2002, a nationally representative health survey of the U.S. population. The researchers obtained purified DNA from blood cells and then used a genetic technique known as polymerase chain reaction to measure the telomeres, the caps on the tips of chromosomes that help protect the genetic code.

Then the researchers measured the concentration of cadmium in the blood and urine samples. They divided the participants up into fourths based on the concentrations of cadmium found in their bloodstream, finding that people in the highest group had telomeres that were about six percent shorter than those in the lowest group.

"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."

Normal wear and tear on the telomeres leads to shortening as people get older. But other factors, including cadmium, may speed up that process. When the telomeres get too short, the cell can no longer divide and chronic diseases can be the result.

The findings of this study suggest that cadmium can elicit harmful effects on the human body at levels well below the current safety standards set by environmental and occupational safety agencies. Such findings suggest that public health officials may need to accelerate the efforts to reduce the contamination of the environment--so that people are protected from even trace amounts of this metal, Zota notes.

The World Health Organization says global efforts to reduce exposure to this metal are urgently needed in order to protect the public health. Because tobacco smoke releases cadmium into the air WHO recommends a ban on smoking in public places. The group also suggests that governments worldwide promote better ways of disposing batteries and other measures to prevent contamination of the environment. Interventions should be aimed at protecting the most vulnerable, such as minority or low-income populations, who are often disproportionately exposed.

For non-smokers, food is generally the largest source of cadmium exposure, Zota says. Cadmium levels in some foods can be increased due to the application of phosphate fertilizers or sludge that is applied to farm fields.

Many other studies have linked exposure to cadmium to a host of health problems but this is one of the first to suggest it can shorten telomeres and set people up for premature aging, Zota says. This study also looked at human exposure to the heavy metal lead but found no link between blood levels of lead and shorter telomeres, Zota says.

Still, she says the new study's findings do not prove that exposure to cadmium actually causes telomeres to get shorter. Instead, this study finds an association between cadmium levels and shorter telomeres, a link that was strong and independent but must be proven with additional research.

Zota served as the lead author on the study. Other collaborators on the study included researchers from the University of California, San Francisco, the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and the Stanford University School of Medicine. The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health

About Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University:

Established in July 1997 as the School of Public Health and Health Services, Milken Institute School of Public Health is the only school of public health in the nation's capital. Today, nearly 1,534 students from almost every U.S. state and more than 45 countries pursue undergraduate, graduate and doctoral-level degrees in public health. The school also offers an online Master of Public Health, MPH@GW, and an online Executive Master of Health Administration, MHA@GW, which allow students to pursue their degree from anywhere in the world.

Kathy Fackelmann | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://publichealth.gwu.edu/

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Cryo-electron microscopy achieves unprecedented resolution using new computational methods
24.03.2017 | DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

nachricht How cheetahs stay fit and healthy
24.03.2017 | Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V.

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Argon is not the 'dope' for metallic hydrogen

24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

Astronomers find unexpected, dust-obscured star formation in distant galaxy

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Gravitational wave kicks monster black hole out of galactic core

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>