With 15,000 tons produced each year for batteries, alloys, and pigments, the heavy metal cadmium is one of the most serious environmental pollutants. Chronic exposure can induce kidney damage and bone disease and is thought to cause cancer. A study in the August issue of Nature Medicine now shows that cadmium mimics the effects of estrogen, and suggests that even at relatively low doses cadmium might have wide-ranging effects on the body.
Mary Beth Martin and colleagues report that, in rats, cadmium induces several well-known estrogenic responses. These included increased uterine weight, changes in the endometrial lining and increased density of the epithelia of the mammary gland. Moreover, in utero exposure to cadmium affected mammary gland development and onset of puberty in female offspring. The results provide solid evidence that cadmium has estrogenic effects in the whole animal, and follow up on earlier studies reporting that cadmium and other heavy metals such as nickel interact with the estrogen receptor. The new data also broaden the toxic repertoire of cadmium, which is a known kidney toxin, and was recently shown (Jin et al., Nat. Genet. 34, 326–329; 2003) to impair DNA repair processes in yeast.
The investigators did not perform dose-response studies but they found that cadmium induced potent estrogenic responses in rats at doses (5–10 micrograms per kilogram total weight) comparable to the Provisional Tolerable Weekly Intake recommended by the World Health Organization (7 micrograms per kilogram per week). In addition to pinpointing another mechanism for some of cadmium’s effects, the new data could call into question current regulatory standards for cadmium exposure.
Jo Webber | alfa
Finding new clues to brain cancer treatment
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The operational speed of semiconductors in various electronic and optoelectronic devices is limited to several gigahertz (a billion oscillations per second). This constrains the upper limit of the operational speed of computing. Now researchers from the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter in Hamburg, Germany, and the Indian Institute of Technology in Bombay have explained how these processes can be sped up through the use of light waves and defected solid materials.
Light waves perform several hundred trillion oscillations per second. Hence, it is natural to envision employing light oscillations to drive the electronic...
Most natural and artificial surfaces are rough: metals and even glasses that appear smooth to the naked eye can look like jagged mountain ranges under the microscope. There is currently no uniform theory about the origin of this roughness despite it being observed on all scales, from the atomic to the tectonic. Scientists suspect that the rough surface is formed by irreversible plastic deformation that occurs in many processes of mechanical machining of components such as milling.
Prof. Dr. Lars Pastewka from the Simulation group at the Department of Microsystems Engineering at the University of Freiburg and his team have simulated such...
Investigation of the temperature dependence of the skyrmion Hall effect reveals further insights into possible new data storage devices
The joint research project of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) that had previously demonstrated...
Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, recently completed a 5-year research project looking at how to make fibre optic communications systems more energy efficient. Among their proposals are smart, error-correcting data chip circuits, which they refined to be 10 times less energy consumptive. The project has yielded several scientific articles, in publications including Nature Communications.
Streaming films and music, scrolling through social media, and using cloud-based storage services are everyday activities now.
After helping develop a new approach for organic synthesis -- carbon-hydrogen functionalization -- scientists at Emory University are now showing how this approach may apply to drug discovery. Nature Catalysis published their most recent work -- a streamlined process for making a three-dimensional scaffold of keen interest to the pharmaceutical industry.
"Our tools open up whole new chemical space for potential drug targets," says Huw Davies, Emory professor of organic chemistry and senior author of the paper.
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