Arsenic May Be Linked to Increased Diabetes Risk

Updated at: Oct 30, 2012
Arsenic May Be Linked to Increased Diabetes Risk

Arsenic, a mineral found in water can be the cause for diabetes, so says researchers. Find out the whys, hows and whats.

Arka Roy Chowdhury
DiabetesWritten by: Arka Roy ChowdhuryPublished at: Oct 30, 2012

Arsenic is found in many minerals; usually existing in conjunction with sulphur and metals, it is a metalloid which is naturally found in water. What stands more appalling to the scientific world is the presence of high levels of arsenic in the urine of diabetics as found in various studies.


[Read: Causes of Excessive Urination in Diabetes]


A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association looked at data from the 2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and found that people with high levels of arsenic found in their urine had four times the risk of developing diabetes. It has therefore, been suggested that there is indeed a correlation between chronic consumption of drinking water contaminated with arsenic and the incidence of diabetes.


The Cause


Another study at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has reported that inorganic arsenic, which is commonly found in ground water, may be playing a role in increasing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.  Researches have taken the levels of dimethylarsinate, a compound created when inorganic arsenic is metabolised before excretion, into consideration and they have found several reasons on why inorganic arsenic may contribute to diabetes. They are:


  • The cells that are insulin-sensitive and are exposed to insulin and sodium arsenic seem 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.
  • Oxygen-related cell damage, inflammation, and cell death, all of which are linked to diabetes, may be contributed by arsenic.


[Read: How Insulin Works in Diabetes]


Researchers say that there are several mechanisms through which arsenic might actually cause diabetes. Your cells, for example, may be exposed to arsenic and become less likely to take up sugar. Arsenic may also contribute to free radical damage and inflammation of your body, increasing the chances of diabetes. Arsenic may get into humans through natural sources, such as mineral ores and groundwater; one may also find it in various commercial products such as insecticides, herbicides, fungicides and wood preservatives. Industrial processes such as the burning of fossil fuels and bronze plating as well as the manufacturing of electronics have the potential to give rise to the substance. Certain medications such as anti-parasitic drugs and some natural remedies, too, contain arsenic.


The only way you can protect yourself from arsenic and other chemicals such as pesticides, gasoline hydrocarbons, household-use products and solvents is to filter the drinking water supply to your house with the best possible water filter. Until further researches are done to confirm these claims, stay safe, as prevention is better than cure.


Read more articles on Diabetes Causes and Risks




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