Cadmium is a dangerous heavy metal and a known carcinogen. Even though daily exposure is usually relatively low compared to toxins like arsenic, cadmium bioaccumulates with a half-life in the body of 25-30 years.
Essentially, the older you are, the more cadmium you have stored in your body. When cadmium exposure is high, it increases cellular oxidation products that deplete antioxidants like glutathione peroxidase and superoxide dismutase, rendering the body defenseless to further oxidative damage .
The most common sources of cadmium exposure are green leafy vegetables and grains, as cadmium is accumulated from contaminated water and soil. Thus, people consuming plant-based diets may be at a higher risk for cadmium exposure. Tobacco, a green leafy plant, concentrates cadmium, which is then highly absorbed through the lungs when smoked, resulting in blood cadmium levels 3 times higher than in non-smokers . In comparison, only a small percentage of cadmium is absorbed in the gut from food. Other sources of cadmium include industrial activities such as smelting and refining, mining, and manufacturing of batteries and cadmium-containing pigments.