Blood and urine cadmium concentrations and walking speed in middle-aged and older U.S. adults

Junghoon Kim, Esther Garcia-Esquinas, Ana Navas-Acien, Yoon Hyeong Choi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Reduced physical performance is an important feature of aging, and walking speed is a valid measure of physical performance and mobility in older adults. Previous epidemiological studies suggest that cadmium exposure, even at low environmental levels, may contribute to vascular, musculoskeletal, and cognitive dysfunction, which may all be associated with reductions in physical performance. To this end, we investigated the associations of blood and urine cadmium concentrations with walking speed in middle-aged and older adults in the U.S. general population. We studied U.S. adults from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1999 to 2002 who were ≥50 years of age, who had determinations of cadmium in blood or in urine, and who had measurements of the time taken to walk 20 feet. Walking speed (ft/sec) was computed as walked distance (20 ft) divided by measured time to walk (in seconds). The weighted geometric means of blood and urine cadmium were 0.49 [95% confidence interval (CI): 0.47, 0.52] μg/L and 0.37 (95% CI: 0.34, 0.42) ng/mL, respectively. After adjusting for sociodemographic, anthropometric, health-related behavioral, and clinical risk factors and inflammation markers, the highest (vs. lowest) quintile of blood cadmium was associated with a 0.18 (95% CI: 0.10, 0.25) ft/sec reduction in walking speed (p-Trend <0.001). No association was observed for urine cadmium levels with walking speed. Cadmium concentrations in blood, but not in urine, were associated with slower gait speed. Our findings add to the growing volume of evidence supporting cadmium's toxicity even at low levels of exposure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)97-104
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
StatePublished - Jan 2018


  • Cadmium exposure
  • Environmental exposure
  • Epidemiology
  • Physical function
  • Walking speed

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


Dive into the research topics of 'Blood and urine cadmium concentrations and walking speed in middle-aged and older U.S. adults'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this