The study, published in The Prostate, found prostate-specific antigen, or PSA, levels were 22 percent higher among U.S. men who had zinc levels below the median -- less than 12.67 mg/daily -- and cadmium levels above the median.
The higher a man's PSA level, the more likely prostate cancer is present. However, among men with a greater than median zinc intake, little evidence of an association between cadmium and PSA was found.
Epidemiologist Edwin van Wijngaarden of the University of Rochester Medical Center said zinc stimulates production of a protein that binds cadmium, thereby taking it out of circulation and reducing its toxic effects. However, it is too early to recommend zinc supplements for those who are worried about their prostate damage, van Wijngaarden said.
"Your health is based on the complex interplay of many factors," van Wijngaarden said in a statement. "Environmental exposures play out differently in people. It's important to identify those subpopulations that may be more sensitive to toxicities."