An environmental toxicant and endocrine disruptor in humans, the heavy metal cadmium is said to be among the leading causes of declining fertility in men, as it tends to reduce sperm counts and inhibit healthy reproductive function. But two major studies published in prominent journals reveal that cadmium-induced testicular damage can be mitigated through the administration of hemin, a derivative of hemoglobin, and lithium, a chemical substance commonly used in psychiatric medications.
Researchers from King Faisal University in Saudi Arabia discovered back in 2009 that rats suffering from cadmium-induced testicular damage experienced major improvements after just three days of injections with hemin. As published in the journal Toxicology, their findings reveal that hemin helped increase serum testosterone levels, which are reduced as a result of cadmium poisoning, as well as mitigate deficits of glutathione and other antioxidant defense mechanisms.
According to the study’s abstract, the administration of hemin helped suppress the lipid peroxidation in testicular tissue that resulted from cadmium administration. Additionally, the substance, which Merriam-Webster’s encyclopedia describes as a crystalline salt derived from hemoglobin, helped increase nitric oxide levels in the testicles of cadmium-poisoned rats, effectively restoring damaged testicular tissue.
“It was concluded that hemin, through its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antiapoptotic effects, represents a potential therapeutic option to protect the testicular tissue from the detrimental effects of cadmium,” reads an abstract of the study.
Lithium also beneficial in restoring testicular health following cadmium poisoning
Similarly, the administration of lithium in cadmium-poisoned rats was shown in a 2010 study published in the Journal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics to provide positive benefits. Compared to cadmium-poisoned rats not given lithium, those given the compound experienced increases in levels of testosterone and anti-apoptotic protein, as well as reductions in anti-inflammatory cytokine and pro-apoptotic protein levels.
“Testicular histopathology showed that cadmium produced an extensive germ cells apoptosis and the addition of lithium in cadmium-treated rats significantly reduced cadmium-induced testicular damage,” wrote the authors, from Kuwait University.
Together, these two studies illustrate that cadmium poisoning is by no means incurable and that its damaging effects can be averted through the use of both hemin and lithium. However, as with any disease treatment protocol, especially those that involve detoxifying heavy metals, always be sure to consult with a knowledgeable and trusted physician.
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