Water Contaminated With Arsenic Linked to Skin Cancer

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Arsenic-contaminated water, at levels below the 2001 EPA maximum, is associated with skin cancer in U.S. populations.
Arsenic-contaminated water, at levels below the 2001 EPA maximum, is associated with skin cancer in U.S. populations.

(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 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.

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.

RELATED: Skin Cancer With Aggressive Subclinical Extensions Risk Increased in Immunosuppressed Patients

"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."


  1. Mayer JE, Goldman RH, et al. Arsenic and skin cancer in the USA: the current evidence regarding arsenic-contaminated drinking water. 16 Jul 2016. International Journal of Dermatology. doi: 10.1111/ijd.13318. [Epub ahead of print.]

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