Arsenic in Well Water Related to Atherosclerosis

DALLAS, TX — March 26, 2002 — Long-term exposure to ingested arsenic, a contaminant in artesian well water in many parts of the world, has been linked to heart attacks, strokes and diseased arteries in the body's extremities, according to a study in today's rapid access Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

For the first time, researchers report a strong dose-dependent relationship between arsenic exposure and accelerated development of atherosclerosis in the arteries leading to the brain. The findings strongly point to arsenic, and possibly other pollutants, as risk factors for blood vessel disease throughout the body. "More than 100 million people are exposed to underground water with high concentrations of arsenic," says Chih-Hao Wang, M.D., of the graduate institute of epidemiology in the College of Public Health at National Taiwan University in Taipei.

"Chronic arsenic poisoning, called arseniasis, is an emerging epidemic in Asia. Our results indicate that long-term arsenic exposure may lead to the progression or acceleration of carotid artery disease and most likely generalized artery disease in humans," Dr. Wang says.

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