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Association between Blood Cadmium Levels and 10-Year Coronary Heart Disease Risk in the General Korean Population: The Korean National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2008–2010

Background
Non-occupational heavy metals are considered risk factors for coronary heart disease (CHD). Several recent epidemiologic studies have evaluated the relationship between non-occupational cadmium exposure and risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD). This study was designed to investigate the relationship between non-occupational cadmium exposure and risk factors for CHD using the Framingham estimate of 10 year CHD risk.

Methods
The heavy metal dataset of the Korean National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey for 2008 through 2010, a cross-sectional survey of a representative sample of 4,668 non-institutionalized Koreans, was analyzed. Subjects were stratified into seven age groups to minimize the effects of age. The log-transformed blood cadmium concentrations were compared with the Framingham estimate of 10 year CHD risk in each age stratum.

Results
The Framingham estimate of 10 year CHD risk was significantly associated with the log-transformed blood cadmium concentrations (p<0.05) in all age groups of Korean men, with the lowest regression coefficient (0.254) for men aged 20 to <35 years and the highest (3.354) for men aged 55 to <60 years; similar results, however, were not observed in Korean women. After adjusting for survey year, age, and urinary cotinine concentration, the log-transformed blood cadmium levels among men aged 20 to <35, 40 to <45, 50 to <55, and 60 to <65 years were significantly associated with systolic blood pressure (p<0.05), but not with total and high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol concentrations.

Conclusions
Cadmium exposure, even at non-occupational levels, may be associated with CHD risk in men. Despite the declines in non-occupational cadmium exposure over the past several decades, more efforts are needed.