Keywords |
  • Medical Science

Itai itai disease

Itai itaidisease literally meaning it hurts, it hurts in Japanese and is a disease caused by massive cadmium (Cd) poisoning. It mostly affects elderly, post-menopausal women.

Itai itai&nbsp disease developed in the prefecture of Toyama in Japan, a region where there has been extensive mining since the XVIth century.

Symptoms of itai itaidisease.

The symptoms of poisoning are fragile bones with calcification problems and therefore bone deformities, renal impairment, and extreme pain in the joints and vertebral column. This is why the local populations named the disease as they did.

Consequences of the disease

Cadmium specifically binds to and remains in the human body for a very long time, several decades. It replaces other essential metals in the body such as copper or zinc in protein complexes. This results in abnormal physiological functioning and cytotoxicity which leads to defective calcium absorption and damage to the renal mitochondria resulting in dysfunction.

Cadmium exposure became chronically high in the first half of the XXth century. Cadmium from the mining was disposed of in waterand bound by rice in paddy fields thereby contaminating the staple food of the local populations.

Causes of the disease

The fact that a specific population was affected (elderly women) suggests that cadmium poisoning is not the only cause of the disease. Malnutrition and metabolic problems affecting calcium (gender, menopause, genetics) appear to have been aggravating factors.

Although it was described in the 1940s, the cause of the disease was not immediately identified. It was not until 1968 that the link was officially made between the symptoms and cadmium pollution from mining.

Since then, levels of cadmium have fallen and no new victims have been reported since 1946. Along with Minamata, itai itai is one of the major diseases caused by pollution in Japan.

The prefecture of Toyama where the itai itai disease presented. © Japan Information Network The prefecture of Toyama where the itai itai disease presented. © Japan Information Network


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