Can Cadmium Poisoning Mimic Pregnancy?

Laura Asks:

Do you watch the television show Scorpion? If you do watch the show— you may not to read any further as this question may contain spoilers. In a recent episode, a character finds out that she is not pregnant, but instead is suffering from cadmium poisoning, which caused a late period and morning sickness. Is that possible?

Jordyn Says:

periodic-table-42115_1280Well, this is an interesting question. I had to do a bit of digging before coming to a conclusion.

The first research I did dealt extensively with chronic cadmium poisoning in a CEU article published by the CDC. For each of these effects from cadmium poisoning you could probably find research articles supporting and denying the correlation between cadmium and these disease processes so keep that in mind when you read this list.

Chronic exposure to cadmium fumes or dust, in some studies, have been associated with COPD, emphysema, and lung cancer. Animal studies show that exposure raises blood pressure.

The kidneys are the organs most affected by cadmium poisoning and the damage is dose related. Of interesting note was some studies that showed an increased likelihood of kidney stones in populations that had exposure to this heavy metal. Some studies have also shown bone lesions leading to fractures and osteoporosis.

In animals, cadmium in large doses crosses the placenta and led to birth defects, severe placental damage, and fetal death. This, however, has not been proven in the human realm but some studies show women exposed to cadmium may have a higher risk of premature labor.

Surprisingly, in this extensive article, nothing was said about cadmium’s effects on the menstrual cycle so I began to search just for that issue. I did come across this study which showed that cadmium could effect hormone levels involved with menses, but by mildly reducing some that are involved with pregnancy so, in essence, cadmium exposure shouldn’t mimic pregnancy.

All this being said, stress can always alter a woman’s cycle and nausea can be a sign of anxiety, but correlating these with cadmium exposure might be stretching it.

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