Study: Arsenic Exposure Tied to Increased Risk for Type 2 Diabetes

In a study involving a representative sample of U.S. adults, higher levels of arsenic in the urine appear to be associated with increased prevalence of type 2 diabetes, according to a report in the Aug. 20 issue of JAMA.

Arsenic from inorganic sources is highly toxic and causes cancer in humans, according to background information in the article. Millions of individuals worldwide are exposed to drinking water contaminated with inorganic arsenic. Exposure to high concentrations of the element in drinking water and in the workplace has been shown to be associated with diabetes, but little is known about the effect of lower levels on diabetes risk. In contrast, arsenobetaine -- an organic arsenic compound derived eating seafood -- is considered non-toxic.

Ana Navas-Acien, M.D., Ph.D., of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, and colleagues studied 788 adults age 20 and older who had their urine tested for arsenic levels as part of the government-conducted 2003-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).

Overall, 7.7 percent of the participants had type 2 diabetes. After adjusting for diabetes risk factors and biomarkers of seafood intake, participants with type 2 diabetes had a 26 percent higher level of total arsenic in their urine than those without the disease. Levels of arsenobetaine were similar between the two groups.

After the same adjustment for related factors, the researchers found that participants in the top one-fifth of total urine arsenic levels (16.5 micrograms per liter) had 3.6 times the odds of having type 2 diabetes as those in the lowest one-fifth (3.0 micrograms per liter), and those in the top one-fifth of dimethylarsinate levels (6.0 micrograms per liter) had 1.5 times the odds as those in the lowest one-fifth (2.0 micrograms per liter). Dimethylarsinate is a compound into which inorganic arsenic is metabolized before excretion.

"The potential role of arsenic in diabetes development is supported by experimental and mechanistic evidence," the authors noted. Insulin-sensitive cells that are exposed to insulin and sodium arsenite appear to take in less glucose than cells exposed only to insulin. Arsenic could also influence genetic factors that interfere with insulin sensitivity and other processes, or could contribute to oxygen-related cell damage, inflammation and cell death (which have also been related to diabetes).

"From a public health perspective, confirmation of a role for arsenic in diabetes development would add to the concerns posed by the carcinogenic, cardiovascular, developmental and reproductive effects of inorganic arsenic in drinking water, and could substantially modify risk assessment and risk-benefit analyses estimating the consequences of arsenic exposure," the authors concluded. "Given widespread exposure to inorganic arsenic from drinking water worldwide, elucidating the contribution of arsenic to the diabetes epidemic is a public health research priority with potential implications for the prevention and control of diabetes."

Download Center

HTML - No Current Item Deck
  • Free Safety Management Software Demo

    IndustrySafe Safety Management Software helps organizations to improve safety by providing a comprehensive toolset of software modules to help businesses identify trouble spots; reduce claims, lost days, OSHA fines; and more.

  • Easy to Use Safety Incident App

    Record incidents on the go with IndustrySafe’s mobile app. Collect data for multiple types of incidents including including near misses, vehicle and environmental incidents, and employee and non-employee injuries; at job sites and remote locations—with or without web access.

  • Safety Training 101

    When it comes to safety training, no matter the industry, there are always questions regarding requirements and certifications. IndustrySafe is here to help. We put together a resource that’s easy to digest so you can get answers to your training questions and ensure you're complying with OSHA's standards.

  • Conduct EHS Inspections and Audits

    Record and manage your organization’s inspection data with IndustrySafe’s Inspections module. IndustrySafe’s pre-built forms and checklists may be used as is, or can be customized to better suit the needs of your organization.

  • Track Key Safety Performance Indicators

    IndustrySafe’s Dashboard Module allows organizations to easily track safety KPIs and metrics. Gain increased visibility into your business’ operations and safety data.

  • Industry Safe
comments powered by Disqus