Striking association between urinary cadmium level and albuminuria among Torres Strait Islander people with diabetes

Indigenous people of the Torres Strait (Australia) have greater potential for cadmium exposure and renal damage than other Australians due to high cadmium in some traditional seafood and a high prevalence of Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, smoking, and obesity. This study explored associations between albuminuria and an index of cadmium exposure (urinary cadmium excretion) in the presence and absence of Type 2 diabetes.

Research design and methods
Two population-based, cross-sectional studies were undertaken in the Torres Strait to obtain data on body mass index (BMI), blood pressure, chronic disease, smoking, urinary cadmium, and albumin creatinine ratio (ACR).

Age- and BMI-adjusted urinary cadmium levels were significantly higher (p<0.01) among people with diabetes and albuminuria (n=22, geometric mean (GM) 1.91 μg Cd/g creatinine) compared to those with diabetes and normal ACR (n=21, GM 0.74 μg Cd/g creatinine). Urinary cadmium was also strongly associated (p<0.001) with ACR among people with diabetes in regression models and remained significant after controlling for age, sex, BMI, smoking status, and hypertension (or continuous systolic and diastolic measurements).

While the study has methodological limitations and the nature of the association is unclear, the striking dose-dependent links between markers of cadmium exposure and of Type 2 diabetic nephropathy highlight the need for further definitive research on the health effects of cadmium in the presence of diabetes.