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Diabetes Channel
Reported August 21, 2008

Arsenic Linked to Diabetes?

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- There may be more health dangers linked to arsenic.

A new study from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health finds higher levels of arsenic in urine seem to increase the risk of type 2 diabetes.
 
Millions of people worldwide are exposed to drinking water contaminated with inorganic arsenic, including 13 million Americans. Being exposed to high concentrations of the element has been shown to be associated with diabetes, but little is known about how lower levels affect the disease.
 
Researchers looked at 788 adults age 20 and older who had their urine tested for arsenic levels as part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).
 
Results show participants in the top one-fifth of arsenic levels (16.5 micrograms per liter) had 3.6 times the odds of having type 2 diabetes compared to those in the lowest one-fifth (3.0 micrograms per liter). The study also shows those in the top one-fifth of dimethylarsinate levels (6.0 micrograms per liter) had 1.5 times the odds of having type 2 diabetes as participants in the lowest one-fifth (2.0 micrograms per liter). Inorganic arsenic is metabolized into dimethylarsinate before it is excreted.
 
Researchers say insulin-sensitive cells exposed to insulin and sodium arsenite seem to take in less glucose than cells exposed to insulin alone. Arsenic could also affect genetic factors that interfere with insulin sensitivity and other processes, or help cause oxygen-related cell damage, inflammation and cell death, which have also been related to diabetes.
 
The authors conclude finding the role of arsenic in the diabetes epidemic is a public health research priority that could help prevent and control the disease.

SOURCE: JAMA, 2008;300:814-822

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