Burden of osteoporosis and costs associated with human biomonitored cadmium exposure in three European countries: France, Spain and Belgium

Eva Ougier, Karine Fiore, Christophe Rousselle, Ricardo Assunção, Carla Martins, Jurgen Buekers

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5 Citations (Scopus)
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Cadmium (Cd) is a toxic heavy metal widespread in the environment leading to human exposure in particular through diet (when smoking is excluded), as documented by recent human biomonitoring (HBM) surveys. Exposure to Cd at environmental low-exposure levels has been associated with adverse effects such as renal toxicity and more recently bone effects. The implication, even if limited, of Cd in the etiology of osteoporosis can be of high importance at the population level given the significant prevalence of osteoporosis and the ubiquitous and life-long exposure to Cd. Therefore, the osteoporosis cases attributable to Cd exposure was estimated in three European countries (Belgium, France and Spain), based on measured urinary Cd levels from HBM studies conducted in these countries. The targeted population was women over 55 years old, for which risk levels associated with environmental Cd exposure were available. Around 23% of the cases were attributed to Cd exposure. Moreover, in a prospective simulation approach of lifelong urinary Cd concentrations assuming different intakes scenarios, future osteoporosis attributable cases were calculated, based on urinary Cd levels measured in women aged under 55. Between 6 and 34% of the considered populations under 55 years were at risk for osteoporosis. Finally, the costs associated to the burden of osteoporosis-related fractures attributable to Cd for each country targeted in this paper were assessed, standing for a major contributing role of Cd exposure in the overall social costs related to osteoporosis. Absolute costs ranged between 0.12 (low estimate in Belgium) and 2.6 billion Euros (high estimate in France) in women currently over 55 years old and at risk for fractures. Our results support the importance of reducing exposure of the general population to Cd.

Original languageEnglish
Article number113747
JournalInternational Journal Of Hygiene And Environmental Health
Publication statusPublished - May 2021


  • Cadmium (Cd)
  • Disability-adjusted life year (DALY)/Quality-adjusted life year (QALY)
  • Disease burden
  • HBM4EU
  • Human biomonitoring (HBM)
  • Osteoporosis
  • Population attributable fraction


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