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Exposure to inorganic arsenic may increase diabetes risk


Inorganic arsenic, both of geogenic origin or as an anthropogenic pollutant is present in many water resources throughout the globe with the most highly contaminated regions including Bangladesh, West Bengalen, Taiwan, Vietnam and Chile. For years, it's been known that arsenic is linked to cancer. At high levels of exposure, it also is connected to cardiovascular health and diabetes,  but that evidence comes from regions where arsenic levels in drinking water and the environment are very high (see above).

The Environmental Protection Agency mandates arsenic levels in drinking water not exceed 10 parts per billion (ppb), but more than 13 million Americans are living in areas with arsenic levels above that, according to the new study. However, little is known about the health implications of such lower exposure to inorganic arsenic.

The new study:
Ana Navas-Acien, of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland, and colleagues studied 788 adults age 20 and older who had their urine tested for arsenic levels as part of a government-conducted 2003-2004 survey.

The researchers found that the 7.7 percent of the participants who had type 2 diabetes, after adjusting for other diabetes risk factors, had a 26 percent higher level of arsenic in their urine than those without the disease.

The study also found that 20 percent of the participants who had the highest arsenic levels in their urine (16.5 micrograms per liter) had 3.6 times higher risk of having type 2 diabetes than the 20 percent with the lowest level (3.0 micrograms per liter).

The original study

Ana Navas-Acien Ellen K. Silbergeld, Roberto Pastor-Barriuso,  Eliseo Guallar, Arsenic Exposure and Prevalence of Type 2 Diabetes in US Adults, J. Am. Med. Assoc., 300/7 (2008) 814-822. available at: http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/300/7/814

Related studies

C.H. Tseng, Cardiovascular disease in arsenic-exposed subjects living in the arseniasis-
hyperendemic areas in Taiwan, Atheriosclerosis, 199/1(2008) 12-18. DOI: 10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2008.02.013

Hassan Imran Afridi, Tasneem Gul Kazi, Naveed Kazi, Mohammad Khan Jamali, Mohammad Balal Arain, Nusrat Jalbaini, Jameel Ahmedd Baig, R.A. Sarfraz, Evaluation of status of toxic metals in biological samples of diabetes mellitus patients, Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice, 80/2 (2008) 280-288. DOI: 10.1016/j.diabres.2007.12.021

Jaymie R. Meliker, Robert L. Wahl, Lorraine L. Cameron, Jerome O. Nriagu, Arsenic in drinking water and cerebrovascular disease, diabetes mellitus, and kidney disease in Michigan: a standardized mortality ratio analysis, Environ. Health, 6 (2007) 4. DOI: 10.1186/1476-069X-6-4

A. Ettinger, A. Zota, C. Amarasiriwardena, M. Osborn, H. Hu, Maternal hair arsenic and risk of gestational diabetes, Epidemiol., 18/5 (2007) S156. DOI: 10.1097/01.ede.0000276809.61581.f6

C.J. Chen, S.L. Wang, J.M. Chiou, Arsenic and diabetes and hypertension in human populations: A review, Toxicol. Appl. Pharmacol., 222/3 (2007) 298-304. DOI: 10.1016/j.taap.2006.12.032

José Antonio Coronado-González, Luz María Del Razo, Gonzalo García-Vargas, Francisca Sanmiguel-Salazar, Jorge Escobedo-de la Peña, Inorganic arsenic exposure and type 2 diabetes mellitus in Mexico, Environ. Res. (U.S.A), 104/3 (2007) 383-389. DOI: 10.1016/j.envres.2007.03.004

Habibul Ahsan, Yu Chen, Faruque Parvez, Maria Argos, Azm Iftikhar Hussain, Hassina Momotaj, Diane Levy, Alexander van Geen, Geoffrey Howe, J. Graziano, Health Effects of Arsenic Longitudinal Study (HEALS): Description of a multidisciplinary epidemiologic investigation, J. Expo. Sci. Environ. Epidemiol., 16/2 (2006) 191-205. DOI: 10.1038/sj.jea.7500449

A. Navas-Acien, E.K. Silbergeld, R.A. Streeter, J.M. Clark, T.A. Burke, E. Guallar, Arsenic exposure and type 2 diabetes: A systematic review of the experimental and epidemiologic evidence, Environ. Health Perspect., 114/5 (2006) 641-648. DOI: 10.1289/ehp.8551

Claudia Hopenhayn, Arsenic in Drinking Water: Impact on Human Health, Elements, 2/2 (2006) 103. DOI: 10.2113/gselements.2.2.103

Takahiko Yoshida, Hiroshi Yamauchi, Gui Fan Sun, Chronic health effects in people exposed to arsenic via the drinking water: dose-response relationships in review, Toxicol. Appl. Pharmacol., 198 (2004) 243-252. DOI: 10.1016/j.taap.2003.10.022

Floyd J. Frost, Timothy Muller, Hans V. Petersen, Bruce Thomson, Kristine Tollestrup, Identifying US populations for the study of health effects related to drinking water arsenic, J. Expo. Anal. Environ. Epidemiol., 13/3 (2003) 231.  DOI: 10.1038/sj.jea.7500275

Related EVISA Resources

Journals Database: Journal of the American Medical Association
Link database: Toxicity of Inorganic Arsenic
Link Database: Arsenic Environmental Pollution

Related EVISA News

July 29, 2006: Columbia University Receives $16.9 Million Award from NIEHS to Study Origin and Health Effects of Arsenic in Ground Water
January 18, 2006: Hungarians exposed to high arsenic levels in drinking water
July 29, 2005: Arsenic-free water still a pipedream
May 15, 2005: Use of organoarsenicals as pesticides may lead to contamination of soils and groundwater with toxic arsenic species

last time modified: May 23, 2024


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