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Originally published February 23 2009

Arsenic May Be Linked to Increased Diabetes Risk

by Reuben Chow

(NaturalNews) In a groundbreaking study, researchers have found that exposure to arsenic, a toxic substance which is often present in low concentrations in United States drinking water supplies, may be associated with an elevated risk of getting diabetes.

Details and Findings of Study

The said study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, and the study team had looked at data from the 2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

It was discovered that those who had high levels of arsenic detected in their urine had nearly 4 times the risk of developing diabetes, as compared to those who only had trace levels of the substance. In addition, it was found that the level of arsenic in the study subjects who had type 2 diabetes was about 26% higher overall.

This is not the first time that research has drawn a link between extended arsenic exposure and heightened diabetes risk. Previous studies had also found that arsenic increased blood sugar and insulin levels. However, what is really alarming is that this study has shown that even arsenic levels which are within US regulatory guidelines may be harmful. Even at concentrations which are generally considered harmless, the increased diabetes risk was observable, and it continued to rise with more exposure to arsenic.

One major limitation of this study is that it could not ascertain if exposure to arsenic contributed to the onset of diabetes, or if the compromised bodily systems of diabetics had more trouble filtering out the chemical. In any case, with arsenic also having a host of other detrimental health effects, it remains something for us to be wary of.

Health Dangers of Arsenic

According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) of the Centers for Disease Control, arsenic has the potential to affect all organ systems. It has been strongly associated with lung cancer and skin cancer, and may also contribute to the development of other types of cancer.

In addition, arsenic can cause gastrointestinal issues, heart problems, liver problems and kidney failure. It can affect the brain, lungs and skin, as well as cause miscarriages and birth defects. This sounds like a frightening list of ill effects, one which we need to take precautions against.

How Does Arsenic Get Into Humans?

Arsenic can originate from natural sources, such as mineral ores and groundwater, although it is also found in various commercial products like insecticides, herbicides, fungicides and wood preservatives. Some industrial processes, such as the burning of fossil fuels, hardening of metal alloys, bronze plating as well as the manufacturing of electronics, can also give rise to the substance. Medications like anti-parasitic drugs and even some natural remedies, too, contain arsenic.

The ATSDR website says that food, in particular those sprayed with pesticides which contain arsenic as well as certain seafood, is the main source of the chemical in humans. The researchers, however, seem to be of the view that drinking water is the main culprit.

"Since we already have a safety standard for arsenic levels in drinking water and we know drinking water is the main source of exposure, it's important to reduce arsenic levels in drinking water where it exists. This reinforces that arsenic is a potentially harmful environmental contaminant and it's important to have drinking water with low levels," said Ana Navas-Acien from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, the leader of the study.


Last year, a United States Geological Survey (USGS) study had found that low levels of many man-made chemicals can be detected in drinking water supplies even after the necessary treatment processes. For that study, 260 commonly used chemicals were tested for in water samples obtained from nine sites across the US.

About 130 different chemicals, including pesticides, gasoline hydrocarbons, household-use products and solvents, were found in rivers and streams before cleanup at public water treatment plants. About two out of every three of those chemicals were then also detected in treated water. That is a lot of chemicals in water which is deemed potable; and we're not even talking about those which were not tested for, or are not yet known to Man. (Read more about that study at

In light of the increasing evidence of dangers lurking in our drinking water supplies, it is becoming a more prudent choice to use an additional water filter in the home before drinking tap water or using it to cook. Even showering with contaminated water is said to be potentially harmful, and a shower filter would be useful, too.


Arsenic in the U.S. Water Supply Linked to Diabetes, Study Says (

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry website (

Chemical traces left in treated water, study finds ( (article no longer available; cached version from Google used)

About the author

Reuben Chow has a keen interest in natural health and healing as well as personal growth. His website, All 4 Natural Health, offers a basic guide on natural health information. It details simple, effective and natural ways, such as the use of nutrition, various herbs, herb remedies, supplements and other natural remedies, to deal with various health conditions as well as to attain good health. His other websites also cover topics such as depression help, omega 3 fatty acids, as well as cancer research and information.

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