Arsenic Linked to Skin Cancer
Scientists working in conjunction with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency at the National Health and Environmental Health Effects Research Laboratory have found that arsenic exposure may be linked to several types of cancer, particularly skin cancer, bladder cancer and lung cancer.
The research studied the interaction of arsenic chemicals with the sulfur within proteins, as well as arsenic’s ability to produce free radicals, which serve to damage cell membranes and those tissue systems made of those cells. Symptoms of immediate arsenic exposure include gastrointestinal pain. They also include fatality.
The researchers illustrated that arsenic is increasingly contaminating our foods, our air, our water and our soils. Compounded arsenic is a common ingredent in pesticides and many processed food products. This is because arsenic is toxic to insects and microorganisms (not to mention humans). It is used in wood preservatives and many building materials. It is consistently a byproduct of industrial plant production and building manufacturing. Arsenic is a typical compound in chemotherapy drugs.
The semiconductors gallium arsenide, aluminum arsenide and others are arsenic alloys. According to U.S. Geological Survey studies leading producers of arsenic for industrial use are China, Chile, Peru and Morocco. China produces nearly half of the world’s supply of industrial arsenic.
As a result of its widespread use, arsenic is increasingly found in our drinking water, especially those in industrial areas. Ground water supplies in many parts of the world are now contaminated with arsenic.
When introduced to the environment, compounds with arsenic will oxidize to become unstable. The reaction seen most often producing this instability is a process catalyzed by arsenic methyltransferase. This reduces the arsenic compound from pentavalency to trivalency. This step is followed by the oxidative methylation process, which returns the compound to pentatavalency. During the step to the trivalent version of arsenic, the arsenic has the ability to radically damage cells and tissues. Natural forms of arsenic will metabolize to low-toxicity forms of arsenc through through methylation as well.
Hughes MF, Beck BD, Chen Y, Lewis AS, Thomas DJ. Arsenic Exposure and Toxicology: A Historical Perspective. Toxicol Sci. 2011 Jul 12.
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