Metal accumulation in the human uterus varies by pathology and smoking status

The study found that cancerous tissues of female reproductive tissues, uterine polyps, and those collected from women with a history of smoking are characterized by altered metals status.

Piotr Rzymski, Ph.D., Przemysław Niedzielski, Ph.D., Paweł Rzymski, M.D., Ph.D., Katarzyna Tomczyk, M.D., Lidia Kozak, Ph.D., Barbara Poniedziałek, Ph.D.

Volume 105, Issue 6, Pages 1511-1518


To evaluate the content of Al, Cd, Cr, Cu, Mn, Ni, Pb, and Zn in human endometrium (END), endocervix (ECX), and endometrial (END-P) and endocervical (ECX-P) polyps in relation to histologic image and female demographic characteristics and habits.

Tissues were collected during curettage of the uterine cavity, subjected to histopathologic examination, digested, and analyzed with the use of a microwave induced nitrogen plasma atomic emission spectrometer. Demographic/lifestyle characteristics were assessed with the use of a questionnaire.

University hospital and research laboratory.

One hundred nine white Polish women undergoing curettage of the END (n = 60) or ECX (n = 23) or dissection of END-P (n = 16) or ECX-P (n = 10).


Main Outcome Measure(s):
Trace element concentrations in collected tissues.

Histologic states of analyzed END included: normal (n = 22), irregularity (n = 3), polypoid (n = 12), simple hyperplasia (n = 10), leiomyoma (n = 5), and cancer (n = 8); whereas for ECX: normal (n = 10), inflammation (n = 8), irregularity (n = 2), and cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN; n = 3). All elements were identified in the sampled material. Compared with histologically normal tissues, endometrial cancer, hyperplasia, and CIN revealed significantly increased levels of toxic metals (Cd and Pb), altered status of Cu and Mn, and an elevated Cu/Zn ratio. Current and former smoking was associated with significantly higher Cd and Pb levels in investigated tissues. Polyps represented significant accumulators of Al, Cd, Ni, and Pb (END-P) or Al, Cd, and Cu (ECX-P).

The findings of this study are important in understanding the presence and role of metals in the female reproductive system and its pathology.

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