Arsenic in US drinking water causing adult diabetes
by Alan Harten
August 27, 2008
Arsenic, a poison and a carcinogen commonly found in groundwater, is strongly linked with the onset of diabetes in adults, U.S. researchers said on Tuesday.
Dr. Navas-Acien and colleagues at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore found an association they consider to be “relatively strong” between levels of arsenic commonly found in urine and type 2 diabetes, in a study of adult Americans.
Navas said that it seems that there can be no safe level of arsenic, and it is a big problem as with water becoming scarcer, the world needs additional sources.
Arsenic increases the risk of bladder cancer, lung, kidney, skin, and possibly prostate cancer.
The 20% of the nearly 800 study participants who had more arsenic in their bodies, a tolerable level of 16.5 micrograms per litre of urine, were 3.6 times more at risk of developing diabetes later in life than those in the 20% with the least amount of arsenic in their bodies, 3 micrograms per litre.
The arsenic levels were 26% higher in people with diabetes or late development of Type 2 than those without the disease, the study found.
The U.S. government sets a limit for water consumption of 10 micrograms of arsenic per litre, a level exceeded by about 13 million Americans who live mostly in rural areas where they depend on wells for extracting groundwater, the researchers wrote in the magazine the American Medical Association.
Navas said the arsenic could have a significant role in the incidence of diabetes, but it is difficult to know to what extent.
Arsenic can accumulate in the body and ruin the ability to use insulin and perform the vital task of converting blood sugar into energy.
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