Environment international

What is the role of obesity in the aetiology of arsenic-related disease?

PMID 24571799


Consumption of arsenic contaminated drinking water causes a large variety of adverse health outcomes. Body mass index (BMI), which is linked to diet, is positively associated with arsenic methylation capacity. We investigated the association between an obesity-related diet and arsenic body burden from exposure to naturally contaminated drinking water among Nova Scotia residents. We collected home drinking water and toenail clipping samples among 960 men and women aged 35 to 69 years in Nova Scotia, Canada from 2009 through 2010. We measured body composition and arsenic concentrations in drinking water and toenails clipping samples and collected socio-demographic, behavioural, and dietary information via standardized questionnaires. We derived an obesity-related dietary pattern score using reduced rank regression. Across quartiles of the obesity-related dietary pattern score there were no significant differences in drinking water arsenic concentrations, but there was an inverse trend in arsenic concentrations in toenails across the dietary pattern score (P=0.01). Compared with individuals in the first quartile of the dietary pattern score, those in the second through fourth quartiles had decreased likelihoods of high toenail arsenic (≥ 85 percentile). The corresponding odds ratios (95% confidence intervals [CI]) were 0.81 (95% CI, 0.49, 1.36), 0.57 (95% CI, 0.33, 0.99), and 0.55 (95% CI, 0.31, 0.98), respectively (P for trend=0.02). We conclude that given similar levels of naturally occurring arsenic exposure via drinking water, an obesity-related dietary pattern was associated with significantly lower arsenic concentrations in toenails. Further studies to investigate the underlining mechanisms are warranted.