Skin Cancer Linked to Arsenic-Contaminated Water in U.S.

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Studies indicate a correlation between arsenic-contaminated water and skin cancer
Studies indicate a correlation between arsenic-contaminated water and skin cancer

(HealthDay News) — Arsenic-contaminated water, at levels below the 2001 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) maximum, is associated with skin cancer in U.S. populations, according to a review published online July 15 in the International Journal of Dermatology.

Jonathan E. Mayer, M.D., M.P.H., from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, and Rose H. Goldman, M.D., M.P.H., from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, reviewed the current evidence to examine whether populations in the United States have rates of skin cancer that are associated with higher arsenic concentrations. Data were reviewed from six key studies.

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The researchers found that studies conducted in U.S. populations indicated a correlation between arsenic-contaminated water and skin cancer. In some cases this correlation occurred at arsenic concentrations of <10 µg/L, which was the 2001 EPA maximum allowable concentration for municipal water.

"In order to help curb the rising incidence of skin cancer, arsenic contamination of water warrants the attention of policymakers," the authors write. "Greater testing of well water and increased education and skin cancer surveillance by dermatologists in arsenic-endemic areas may help to reduce exposure to arsenic and facilitate the early recognition of skin cancer."

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