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Arsenic Exposure Linked To Type 2 Diabetes

Posted by Jane Akre
Wednesday, August 20, 2008 7:40 PM EST
Category: On The Road, Major Medical, Protecting Your Family
Tags: Heavy Metals, Environmental Contamination, Type 2 Diabetes, EPA

Arsenic in drinking water is linked to type 2 diabetes.



IMAGE SOURCE: Wikimedia Commons/ drinking water/ author: de:Benutzer:Alex Anlicker


Arsenic, a heavy metal that is found in the Earth’s crust, does not do a human body any good. 

Chronic exposure to drinking water laced with arsenic is associated with cancers of the bladder, lung, kidney, and skin.

Now a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), links arsenic to type 2 diabetes.

Johns Hopkins researchers found the risk for diabetes was greatest among those with the highest inorganic arsenic load in their urine. (Organic arsenic is found in seafood and not considered a risk).

The study’s lead author, Dr. Ana Navas-Acien, a physician and epidemiologist, says one source of the invisible arsenic poisoning may be well water.

“People who get their drinking water from private wells and live in areas where groundwater is naturally contaminated with arsenic are at an especially high risk of being exposed to water with levels above the 10 parts per billion acceptable limit set by the Environmental Protection Agency," Navas-Acien sais to U.S. News.

If you’re using tap water, utility companies are required to keep arsenic levels below 10 ppb.

Arsenic may be contaminating well water when it passes by rocks and soil.

Also, the CDC reports that arsenic in the air washes to the ground when it rains, contaminating crops and fields.  You can be exposed to arsenic through fertilizers, industrial chemicals, coal burning and copper smelting.

Type 2 diabetes is generally considered life style diabetes because it develops later in life and from a lack of exercise and balanced diet.  The disease now accounts for 1 in every ten healthcare dollar spent in the U.S.   

More research is needed to determine if there is a cause and effect between arsenic exposure and type 2 diabetes.

This work echoes findings overseas from Taiwan, Bangladesh, and Mexico that also found a diabetes/arsenic link.  Research with animals has shown arsenic increases both blood glucose and insulin.

Arsenic exposure is linked to a thickening and discoloration of the skin; stomach pain; nausea and vomiting; diarrhea; numbness in the hands and feet; partial paralysis, and blindness.

The Solution?

The solution is a $20 lab test to see whether the well water is contaminated.

Filters such as reverse osmosis, distillation or special aluminum or special iron units can remove arsenic.  Do not rely on water softeners or pitcher filters. A company called NSF offers drinking water treatment units.

Also do not rely on assurances from bottled water manufacturers. 

The Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC), an environmental group, suggests that bottled water may not be free of contaminants.  

The Environmental Working (EWG) group found chlorine and byproducts has cropped up in municipal water supplies as well as parasites, arsenic and potential carcinogens.

Americans are urged to drink at least eight glasses of clean water a day but the NRDC finds that as many as 56 million Americans have drinking water with unsafe arsenic levels.

To find out if your water may be affected check the United States Geological Survey (USGS) maintains maps of arsenic levels. #

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