According to a recent study led by the renowned Sung Kyun Park, Associate Professor of Epidemiology and Environmental Health Sciences at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, a potential link has been established between the impact of cadmium on human health and how it can affect the severity of COVID-19 symptoms in patients.

This research, published in the December issue of the Environmental Health Perspectives review, reveals that environmental risk factors can directly impact biological mechanisms relevant to COVID-19 as well as other respiratory infections. Cadmium (Cd) represents one of these factors, whose pulmonary toxicity has been previously observed in several experimental studies.

Overall, the results of the study suggest that cadmium may play a role in predisposing people to influenza-related pneumonia mortality. The main sources of cadmium exposure are smoking and/or consumption of contaminated food. The study shows that smokers with high levels of cadmium in their bodies are 15% more likely to die from influenza or pneumonia. While non-smokers with high cadmium levels in their bodies have a 27% greater chance of dying from the same diseases than non-smokers with low levels of cadmium in their bodies.

The author concludes his research with these words: “Unfortunately, the human body finds it much more difficult to excrete cadmium than other toxic metals, and its presence in many nutritious foods means it is critical to continue reducing sources of environmental pollution that contribute to its presence in air, soil and water ”.

In any case, cadmium burden is a risk factor for severe complications among patients suffering from respiratory infections. Therefore, as this latest research has shown, and particularly given the intense global spread of COVID-19, it seems essential to continue rigorous scientific study in this direction. At the same time, we must also continue to push for a reduction of cadmium in our diets.


  1. New study links cadmium to more severe flu, pneumonia infections. Available online:

  2. Park, Sack, et al. "Environmental Cadmium and Mortality from Influenza and Pneumonia in U.S. Adults" Environmental Health Perspectives, December 2020.

  3. Satarug, Soisungwan. "Dietary cadmium intake and its effects on kidneys." Toxics 6.1 (2018): 15.

  4. Kim, Hyunju, Emily A. Hu, and Casey M. Rebholz. "Ultra-processed food intake and mortality in the United States: Results from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III 1988-1994)." Public health nutrition 22.10 (2019): 1777.