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Pregnancy Timeline by SemestersFetal liver is producing blood cellsHead may position into pelvisBrain convolutions beginFull TermWhite fat begins to be madeWhite fat begins to be madeHead may position into pelvisImmune system beginningImmune system beginningPeriod of rapid brain growthBrain convolutions beginLungs begin to produce surfactantSensory brain waves begin to activateSensory brain waves begin to activateInner Ear Bones HardenBone marrow starts making blood cellsBone marrow starts making blood cellsBrown fat surrounds lymphatic systemFetal sexual organs visibleFinger and toe prints appearFinger and toe prints appearHeartbeat can be detectedHeartbeat can be detectedBasic Brain Structure in PlaceThe Appearance of SomitesFirst Detectable Brain WavesA Four Chambered HeartBeginning Cerebral HemispheresFemale Reproductive SystemEnd of Embryonic PeriodEnd of Embryonic PeriodFirst Thin Layer of Skin AppearsThird TrimesterSecond TrimesterFirst TrimesterFertilizationDevelopmental Timeline
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Home | Pregnancy Timeline | News Alerts |News Archive Nov 22, 2013

 

A Dartmouth College-led study found arsenic in toenail clippings is most strongly linked
with consumption of alcohol -- especially beer for men and white wine for women,
and Brussels sprouts.

Credit: André Karwath







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Diet alone can be significant source of arsenic

Diet alone can be a significant source of arsenic exposure regardless of arsenic concentrations in drinking and cooking water, a Dartmouth College-led study finds.

The study also confirms that toenail clippings are a good biomarker of long-term exposure to arsenic from consuming alcohol, Brussels sprouts and dark meat fish. Exposure to arsenic has been linked to a variety of health problems, including cancer, vascular diseases and low birth weight.

The findings appear in Nutrition Journal. A PDF is available upon request.

Previous studies have shown that diet can be an important source of total arsenic exposure, but the new study is the first to account for arsenic in drinking and cooking water before looking at dietary contribution. Household water is thought to be most significant source of arsenic exposure in regions where water arsenic concentrations are elevated.


Researchers asked 852 participants about their average consumption over the previous year of 120 different foods, including dairy, fruits, vegetables, eggs, meat, breads, beverages and baked goods. They found arsenic in toenail clippings is most strongly linked with consumption of alcohol — especially beer for men and white wine for women — and Brussels sprouts.


Those who drank more alcohol and ate more Brussels sprouts had more arsenic in their toenail clippings, which makes sense because alcoholic beverages can have higher arsenic content and are known to interfere with the metabolic pathways that detoxify arsenic.

The findings support recent studies that show high concentrations of arsenic in Brussels sprouts and related vegetables because arsenic binds to the sulfur-containing compounds that give them their characteristic odors.


Researchers also found increased toenail arsenic in people who eat dark meat fish, which include tuna steaks, mackerel, salmon, sardines, bluefish and swordfish.

Fish generally contain a form of arsenic that is thought to safely pass through the human body without being metabolized, but dark meat fish also contain arsenic compounds that can be metabolized.


Abstract (provisional)
Background
Limited data exist on the contribution of dietary sources of arsenic to an individual's total exposure, particularly in populations with exposure via drinking water. Here, the association between diet and toenail arsenic concentrations (a long-term biomarker of exposure) was evaluated for individuals with measured household tap water arsenic. Foods known to be high in arsenic, including rice and seafood, were of particular interest.

Methods
Associations between toenail arsenic and consumption of 120 individual diet items were quantified using general linear models that also accounted for household tap water arsenic and potentially confounding factors (e.g., age, caloric intake, sex, smoking) (n = 852). As part of the analysis, we assessed whether associations between log-transformed toenail arsenic and each diet item differed between subjects with household drinking water arsenic concentrations <1 mug/L versus >=1 mug/L.

Results
As expected, toenail arsenic concentrations increased with household water arsenic concentrations. Among the foods known to be high in arsenic, no clear relationship between toenail arsenic and rice consumption was detected, but there was a positive association with consumption of dark meat fish, a category that includes tuna steaks, mackerel, salmon, sardines, bluefish, and swordfish. Positive associations between toenail arsenic and consumption of white wine, beer, and Brussels sprouts were also observed; these and most other associations were not modified by exposure via water. However, consumption of two foods cooked in water, beans/lentils and cooked oatmeal, was more strongly related to toenail arsenic among those with arsenic-containing drinking water (>=1 mug/L).

Conclusions
This study suggests that diet can be an important contributor to total arsenic exposure in U.S. populations regardless of arsenic concentrations in drinking water. Thus, dietary exposure to arsenic in the US warrants consideration as a potential health risk.

This Provisional PDF corresponds to the article as it appeared upon acceptance. Fully formatted PDF and full text (HTML) versions will be made available soon.

The study included researchers from Dartmouth College, Stony Brook University, University of North Carolina, Dartmouth's Geisel School of Medicine and University of Missouri.

The research was supported by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Cancer Institute and Environmental Protection Agency.