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Cadmium and Cardiovascular Risk

Tellez-Plaza, Maria; Guallar, Eliseo; Howard, Barbara V.; Navas-Acien, Ana

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doi: 10.1097/EDE.0b013e31829f613c
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The authors respond:

We thank Kawada1 for his interest in our study2 on cadmium exposure and incident cardiovascular disease (CVD). We evaluated the association of urine cadmium concentration with cardiovascular disease incidence and mortality in the Strong Heart Study, a large population-based cohort with 20 years of follow-up. Rather than evaluate the predictive ability of urine cadmium for incident cardiovascular disease, we aimed to assess the independent association of cadmium as a potential cardiovascular risk factor. In our article, we did not report the association of cardiovascular disease with sex, increased low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, decreased high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, smoking, hypertension, decreased kidney function, and diabetes because these associations have been reported previously.3,4 To respond to Dr. Kawada’s request, we provide a Table showing the association between these established risk factors and incident CVD, with and without adjustment for urine cadmium.

Association of Traditional Cardiovascular Risk Factors with Cardiovascular Disease Incidence in the Strong Heart Study after 20 Years of Follow-up (n = 3,348)

Second, we agree with Dr. Kawada that it is important to report associations between cadmium and CVD stratified by sex. The evaluation of effect modification by sex is important because there are well-established differences in cadmium levels and in CVD incidence by sex, and some epidemiologic studies have found differences in health outcomes by sex.5 In our study, as shown in the eAppendix figures, the magnitude of associations in sex-specific strata were relatively similar for men and women, and the P values for interaction were not statistically significant except for stroke. Consequently, we decided to present the main results in the whole study population (rather than separately for men and women) because it is a more powerful approach.

Regarding Dr. Kawada’s comment on our original Table, the overall prevalence for the different determinants cannot be indirectly inferred based on the comparison of their respective associations with urine cadmium. For instance, the prevalence of current smoking in women (30%) was lower compared with men (42%), contrary to what Dr. Kawada anticipated. In our study, smoking was also related to increased urine cadmium levels in women.

Finally, we do not have data on N-acetyl-beta-D-glucosaminidase and could not evaluate its association with cadmium in our population. However, we adjusted for estimated glomerular filtration rate, indicating that cadmium is a cardiovascular risk factor independent of measures of renal function. Current cadmium standards are based on kidney markers. Our findings support the idea that cardiovascular disease should be incorporated in risk assessment analyses for establishing cadmium safety standards.

Maria Tellez-Plaza

Departments of Epidemiology

and Environmental Health Sciences

Johns Hopkins University

Baltimore, MD

Area of Epidemiology and Population Genetics

National Center for Cardiovascular Research (CNIC)

Madrid, Spain

Fundacion de Investigacion del Hospital Clinico de Valencia-INCLIVA

Valencia, Spain

[email protected]

Eliseo Guallar

Department of Epidemiology

Johns Hopkins University

Baltimore, MD

Area of Epidemiology and Population Genetics

National Center for Cardiovascular Research (CNIC)

Madrid, Spain

Barbara V. Howard

MedStar Health Research Institute

Hyattsville, MD

Georgetown-Howard Universities Center for Clinical and Translational Science

Washington, DC

Ana Navas-Acien

Departments of Epidemiology and

Environmental Health Sciences

Johns Hopkins University

Baltimore, MD


1. Kawada T.. Cadmium and cardiovascular risk. Epidemiology. 2013;24:784
2. Tellez-Plaza M, Guallar E, Howard BV, et al. Cadmium exposure and incident cardiovascular disease. Epidemiology. 2013;24:421–429
3. Lee ET, Howard BV, Wang W, et al. Prediction of coronary heart disease in a population with high prevalence of diabetes and albuminuria: the Strong Heart Study. Circulation. 2006;113:2897–2905
4. Shara NM, Resnick HE, Lu L, et al. Decreased GFR estimated by MDRD or Cockcroft-Gault equation predicts incident CVD: the Strong Heart Study. J Nephrol. 2009;22:373–380
5. Vahter M, Akesson A, Lidén C, Ceccatelli S, Berglund M. Gender differences in the disposition and toxicity of metals. Environ Res. 2007;104:85–95
© 2013 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc