Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Risk For Skin Lesions Increases With Low-dose Exposure To Arsenic In Drinking Water

Date:
June 14, 2006
Source:
Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health
Summary:
Millions of people are exposed to low doses of arsenic through drinking water. In a study of more than 11,000 people in Bangladesh, research conducted by Columbia's Mailman School of Public Health provides evidence that a population exposed to well water with arsenic concentrations of as little as 50 ug/l is at risk for skin lesions. The report also concludes that older, male and thinner participants were more likely to be affected by arsenic exposure.

Millions of persons around the world are exposed to low doses of arsenic through drinking water. However, up until now estimates of the health effects associated with low-dose exposure had been based on research from high-dose levels. In a study of more than 11,000 people in Bangladesh, research conducted by Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health clearly provides evidence that a population exposed to well water with arsenic concentrations of as little as 50 ug/l is at risk for skin lesions. The report also concludes that older, male, and thinner participants were more likely to be affected by arsenic exposure.

The Mailman School team of researchers evaluated the relationship between arsenic exposure from drinking water and premalignant skin lesions over the course of three years. Participants were evaluated for arsenic exposure based on well-water arsenic concentration and usage. "Because of the wide range of arsenic exposure in the study population and the relatively large sample size, we were able to estimate and report dose-response relations even at the very low end of the arsenic exposure range. In particular, arsenic exposure seems to increase the risk of skin lesions at the low end of exposure in this population," said Habibul Ahsan, M.D., MMedSc, associate professor and director of the Center for Genetics in Epidemiology in the Department of Epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health and principal investigator.

The researchers indicate that a unique opportunity exists in Bangladesh to study chronic arsenic exposure measured at the individual level, because the majority of the population uses a single well as their primary source of drinking water, while, for example, in the United States, people usually drink water from multiple sources. However, up until now even assessments at the individual level were extremely difficult because exposures measurements were from years past or the Bangladeshi population drank water from multiple sources.

Another obvious difference between the rural population of Bangladesh and other studied populations is that this population consumes a large amount of water, as much as 2.5–3 liters per day on average vs. 1 liter in the United States. Moreover, almost 100 percent of the drinking water for this population comes from one or two wells with relatively stable concentrations of arsenic.

The team of researchers note that skin lesions were less of a factor in the study for females in the study, and this may be due to the tendency of women in rural Bangladesh tend to cover their bodies more extensively than men. "It also is possible that hormonal and other biologic differences between men and women also could be responsible for part of the gender differences in the skin lesion risks," observed Joseph Graziano, Ph.D., Mailman School associate dean for research, professor of Pharmacology & Public Health, and professor of Environmental Health Sciences.

The study also found some evidence that participants with a higher body mass index were at lower risk of skin lesions than participants with a lower body mass index. "Lower body mass index reflects poorer nutritional status in rural Bangladesh, which could directly or indirectly influence the effect of arsenic. In particular, poor nutritional status may be associated with lower intake of the antioxidants, folates, and/or dietary proteins necessary for metabolism and detoxification of arsenic in the body, said Dr. Ahsan." The influence by gender, age and body mass should be considered in future research and policy decisions."

Skin cancer is the most common arsenic-related cancer. Nearly 100 million people in the world are chronically exposed to arsenic and, therefore, are at increased risk of skin and other arsenic-induced cancers.

The most common route of human exposure to arsenic is through ingesting drinking water that is naturally enriched with arsenic. With an estimated 57 million people in Bangladesh having been exposed to high levels of arsenic from drinking water, starting in the 1970s, UNICEF and the Bangladeshi government installed a large number of hand-pumped tube-wells to provide pathogen-free drinking water to the population of Bangladesh.

The study builds on some of the activities developed in coordination with the NIEHS-funded Superfund Basic Research Program, led by Dr. Joseph Graziano, whose primary goal is to elucidate the health effects and geochemistry of arsenic. The work of the Superfund involves studies at four sites in the U.S., and also focuses on carcinogenic, reproductive and childhood effects of arsenic exposure in drinking water in Bangladesh.

This research was supported by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health. "Risk For Skin Lesions Increases With Low-dose Exposure To Arsenic In Drinking Water." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 June 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/06/060614115146.htm>.
Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health. (2006, June 14). Risk For Skin Lesions Increases With Low-dose Exposure To Arsenic In Drinking Water. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/06/060614115146.htm
Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health. "Risk For Skin Lesions Increases With Low-dose Exposure To Arsenic In Drinking Water." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/06/060614115146.htm (accessed April 18, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Friday, April 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism

Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism

AP (Apr. 18, 2014) Operators of recreational businesses on western reservoirs worry that ongoing drought concerns will keep boaters and other visitors from flocking to the popular summer attractions. (April 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest

Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest

AP (Apr. 18, 2014) At least six Nepalese guides are dead after an avalanche swept the slopes of Mount Everest along a route used to climb the world's highest peak. (April 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Great British Farmland Boom

The Great British Farmland Boom

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 17, 2014) Britain's troubled Co-operative Group is preparing to cash in on nearly 18,000 acres of farmland in one of the biggest UK land sales in decades. As Ivor Bennett reports, the market timing couldn't be better, with farmland prices soaring over 270 percent in the last 10 years. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Small Reactors Could Be Future of Nuclear Energy

Small Reactors Could Be Future of Nuclear Energy

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) After the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the industry fell under intense scrutiny. Now, small underground nuclear power plants are being considered as the possible future of the nuclear energy. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins