Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Something in Water Causes Diabetes?

Uh oh. Even if you give up the burgers and fries and faithfully exercise most days of the week, you may still develop type 2 diabetes just by doing what's good for you: drinking water. Low-level arsenic exposure, possibly from drinking water, has been linked to this form of diabetes, formerly called adult-onset diabetes, according to a new analysis of government data by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland.

The Associated Press reports that although utilities use filtration systems to eliminate arsenic, it can still get into drinking water naturally when minerals dissolve or through industrial pollution from coal burning and copper smelting. The Hopkins researchers analyzed the medical tests of 788 adults and found a nearly fourfold increase in the risk of type 2 diabetes in people with low arsenic concentrations in their urine compared with people who had even lower levels. Specifically, those who had type 2 diabetes had 26 percent higher inorganic arsenic levels than people without type 2 diabetes. (Some types of seafood contain nontoxic organic arsenic so the researchers adjusted their analysis for signs of seafood intake.)

This isn't the first study to show a link between arsenic and type 2 diabetes. Research in other countries has also made that connection, but only with high levels of arsenic; however, this is the first study to show that even low levels can cause this disease. "The good news is, this is preventable," lead author Dr. Ana Navas-Acien told AP, adding that new safe drinking water standards may be needed if the findings are duplicated in future studies. That research has already begun with a new study of 4,000 people.

How can arsenic contribute to diabetes? That is not known, but laboratory studies show that arsenic impairs insulin secretion in pancreas cells treated with an arsenic compound.

There is good news: Data for this study were collected in 2003 and 2004. In 2001, the U.S. government lowered arsenic standards for public water systems to 10 parts per billion; public water systems had to comply with the new standard by 2006. So the amount of arsenic in public water systems should be far less than when the data were collected.
source: Netscape