Aresenic in Drinking Water and Skin Cancers

Arsenic in drinking water and skin cancers: cell-type specificity (Taiwan, R.O.C.)

How-Ran Guo Graduate Institute of Environmental and Occupational Health, College of Medicine, National Cheng Kung University, 138 Sheng-Li Road, Tainan 70428, Taiwan. Ph.: 886-6-235-3535, ext. 5802; Fax: 886-6-275-2484;

Hsin-Su Yu Department of Dermatology, Medical College, Kaohsiung Medical University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan

Howard Hu Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA; Channing Laboratory, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA

Richard R. Monson Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA



The association between arsenic ingestion and cancer has been documented for more than a century. Previous studies showed that the carcinogenic effects of arsenic on the urinary system are cell-type specific. To evaluate whether this is also true for skin cancers, we conducted an ecological study in 243 townships in Taiwan.

Methods: The arsenic exposure was assessed on the basis of measurement reports from a previous survey, and cases of skin cancer were identified using the information gathered by the National Cancer Registry Program.

We analyzed the data by regression models using multiple variables to describe the exposure status, and an urbanization index was also included in the models to adjust for the effects of urbanization.

Results: A total of 2369 patients with skin cancer, comprising 1415 men and 954 women, were registered between 1 January 1980 and 31 December 1989. Among the three major cell types of skin cancer, squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma appear to be associated with ingestion of arsenic. Such an association was not observed for malignant melanoma.

Conclusions: The results suggested that the carcinogenicity of arsenic on skin is cell-type specific, which is compatible with the findings in previous studies on urinary cancers.

Keywords arsenic, basal cell carcinoma, drinking water, malignant melanoma, skin cancer, squamous cell carcinoma.

Cancer Causes and Control 12 (10): 909-916, December 2001 Copyright 2001 Kluwer Academic Publishers All rights reserved Article ID: 381959

Ann's NOTE: Here in the U.S. the current administration has tried to avoid reducing arsenic levels in drinking water.

The use of arsenic on wood used in children's playgrounds has now been halted. Children may well have been using these playgrounds and licking or ingesting arsenic as they played.

Folic acid supplementation lowers blood arsenic

Am J Clin Nutr, 2007; 86(4): 1202-9 September (?) 2007

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