Arsenic in Tap Water Tied to Diabetes

August 20, 2008 03:38 PM
by Isabel Cowles
Exposure to low and moderate levels of inorganic arsenic of the type found in drinking water has been linked to diabetes.
Scientists have long connected arsenic exposure to cancer, but new research indicates that the chemical may also play a role in the development of type 2 diabetes.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins reported recently in the Journal of the American Medical Association that exposure to low or moderate levels of inorganic arsenic, usually found in drinking water, is correlated with the development of type 2 diabetes. According to USA Today, “participants with type 2 diabetes had a 26% higher level of inorganic arsenic than those who didn’t have the disease.”

Exposure to arsenic might cause diabetes for several reasons. According to Web MD: “Insulin-sensitive cells that are exposed to insulin and sodium arsenic appear to take in less glucose than cells exposed only to insulin. Arsenic could influence genetic factors that interfere with insulin sensitivity and other processes. Arsenic also may contribute to oxygen-related cell damage, inflammation, and cell death, all of which are linked to diabetes.”

Type 2 diabetes usually occurs later in life when the pancreas cannot properly regulate its insulin secretion, thereby causing fluctuations in blood sugar. It is often associated with poor diet, lack of exercise and obesity, though new evidence of external causes suggests that the disease is not entirely the result of lifestyle.

Reference: More information on arsenic, diabetes

Arsenic research and statistics
Diabetes resources

Related Topic: Arsenic in drinking water also linked to clogged arteries


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