Exposure Linked to Type 2 Diabetes

The researchers studied 788 adults age 20 and older who had their urine tested for arsenic levels as part of the government-conducted 2003 to 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 metabolised before excretion.

“The potential role of arsenic in diabetes development is supported by experimental and mechanistic evidence,” the authors note. 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).

MEDICA.de; Source: American Medical Association (AMA)