COLUMBIA, Mo., April 15 (UPI) -- U.S. scientists found low levels of cadmium in the brain may contribute to neurological disorders and increase negative drug affects.
Cadmium is a toxic, metallic chemical that accumulates in crops such as tobacco, causing smokers to have significantly high levels of the metal in their bodies. However, non-smokers can be exposed to higher levels of cadmium via second-hand smoke.
Researchers at the University of Missouri tested rats that received cadmium chloride for 30 days, along with a control group. The brains of rats exposed to the cadmium were less sensitive to the amphetamine than those that received regular food.
Dietary cadmium exposure could diminish the reinforcing properties of amphetamines, so that drug users might need more of a drug to achieve a "high." This should be a cause for concern for tobacco and drug users, study co-author Dennis Miller said.
"The implication is that toxicants may encourage drug users to increase their drug intake or increase the odds of developing some neurological disorders such as schizophrenia and Parkinson's disease," Miller said.
The study is in the current edition of Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior.