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A highly toxic element - as little as one-half to one ppm in water can be toxic - and once in the body, cadmium displaces zinc and accumulates in the kidneys, liver and blood vessels, probably for life.
Improperly disposed nickel-cadmium batteries are one way it reaches our water supply, corroded pipes, especially in soft-water areas (as this increases corrosion) is another.
It is also found in cigarette smoke - a 20-pack of cigarettes contains 20mg of cadmium, half of which is absorbed during smoking.
Cadmium is one of the major contributors to high blood pressure, atherosclerosis (the thickening of the walls of arteries), strokes and heart attacks - without doubt, cigarette smoking being the main link.
Nutritional protection can be provided - up to a point - by zinc, which replaces cadmium and by large doses of vitamin C.