Health risks of cadmium in cigarette smoke

Cadmium is a natural element and a toxic metal found in cigarettes and certain foods. High levels of cadmium in the body are related to adverse health effects such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

A study found that the concentration of cadmium in the blood of smokers is four to five times that of non-smokers.

If you smoke, it is important to understand the potential side effects of cadmium. The best way to prevent the health risks of cigarettes is to quit smoking.

Cadmium in cigarettes

Cadmium is released into the environment through industrial processes such as mining. It spreads to the soil and water. Cadmium is usually present in the soil where the tobacco leaves grow, and then the tobacco plants absorb cadmium through the soil and water.

When you smoke, cadmium turns into cadmium oxide, which then enters your lungs. Cigarettes contain 2.0 micrograms (μg) of cadmium. Up to 50% of cadmium is absorbed by the lungs and blood.

Health risk

The main body parts affected by acute cadmium exposure are the lungs, kidneys and bones.

Studies have shown that short-term exposure to high concentrations of cadmium oxide is associated with:

  • Chest pain
  • cough
  • diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Irritating to the respiratory system
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Nausea
  • Persistent cough
  • Precordial contraction
  • Stomach irritation
  • Throat irritation
  • Vomit
  • respite

Over time, acute inhalation of cadmium is also related to the development of health conditions, such as:

  • Bacterial Lung Infection
  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
  • Decreased bone density
  • Kidney disease (deterioration of the kidneys)
  • Emphysema

Cadmium has been found to cause lung cancer and is associated with kidney cancer and prostate cancer.

Nerve influence

Studies have shown that cadmium affects the central nervous system (CNS), which affects how our body moves, feels, thinks, speaks, and recalls information.

Some people severely exposed to cadmium continue to experience:

  • Behavior change
  • Mental retardation
  • Learning Disability
  • Dyskinesia
  • Neurological disorders
  • Olfactory disorders (impaired olfactory ability)
  • Peripheral neuropathy (damage of nerves near the brain and spinal cord)

Severe cadmium exposure is associated with Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis (MS).

More research is needed to fully understand the health effects of long-term exposure to cadmium inhalation.

Non-cigarette cadmium exposure

In addition to cigarette smoke, there are other ways you can be exposed to cadmium, such as through food or even in the workplace.

Although people’s diet and occupation can affect the level of cadmium exposure, the amount of cadmium people are exposed to through these sources is the lowest, and safety supervision is carried out by several government agencies, while cigarettes are not.

Food and water

Cadmium is naturally found in many foods because it can be found in soil and water. Shellfish, animal kidneys, liver, mushrooms and root crops are usually high in cadmium. However, most people in North America consume what is considered a safe amount of cadmium through food.

The World Health Organization (WHO) published a report stating that the “tolerable intake” of cadmium from food sources is 25 micrograms per kilogram of body weight per month (25 micrograms/kg body weight/month).

Many countries and international agencies have established regulations to monitor the cadmium content in soil (where food is grown) and water.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stipulates that the maximum cadmium content in bottled drinking water is 0.005 milligrams per liter (mg/L). The EPA also stipulates that the “upper limit” of cadmium in the soil is 85 milligrams per kilogram (mg/kg).


People working in industrial environments may be at risk of increased exposure to cadmium. Jobs with increased exposure risk include alloy manufacturers, battery manufacturers, welders, pottery manufacturers, glass manufacturers, jewelers, oil refinery workers, paint manufacturers and textile workers.

As people are becoming more aware of the potential health effects of cadmium, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued a “permissible exposure limit” of 5 micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m3). The agency monitors the air quality in the workplace to ensure their safety.


If you suspect that you have had an adverse reaction from exposure to cadmium, please consult your healthcare professional immediately.

They may evaluate your airways, breathing, and circulation. Your doctor may also clean your gastrointestinal tract to remove any remaining traces of cadmium. You may be hospitalized so that the doctor can understand the effects of cadmium on your system.

Unfortunately, there is currently no proven treatment for cadmium poisoning.

Quit smoking

If you currently smoke and are concerned about exposure to cadmium, you can discuss your smoking cessation options with your doctor.

Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) is a type of chewing gum, patch or lozenge that can be given in small doses of nicotine to help you get rid of nicotine dependence. It can help you quit smoking. There are also drugs designed to help people quit smoking, such as Zyban (bupropion) and Chantix (varenicline tartrate).

You can even contact other people trying to quit smoking on the quit smoking app. Contacting someone who knows you are trying to quit can help you stay motivated.

Very good sentence

Cadmium is just one of many toxins in cigarette smoke that can cause serious health effects. If you smoke and worry about the effects of smoking on your health, please consult your doctor. They can solve your health problems and recommend smoking cessation methods that suit you.