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Int J Epidemiol. 1998 Aug;27(4):561-9.

Lung and kidney cancer mortality associated with arsenic in drinking water in Córdoba, Argentina.

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  • 1University of Kentucky, Department of Preventive Medicine and Environmental Health, Lexington 40504, USA.



Studies in Taiwan have found dose-response relations between arsenic ingestion from drinking water and cancers of the skin, bladder, lung, kidney and liver. To investigate these associations in another population, we conducted a study in Córdoba, Argentina, which has a well-documented history of arsenic exposure from drinking water.


Mortality from lung, kidney, liver and skin cancers during the period 1986-1991 in Córdoba's 26 counties was investigated, expanding the authors' previous analysis of bladder cancer in the province. Counties were grouped a priori into low, medium and high arsenic exposure categories based on available data. Standardized mortality ratios (SMR) were calculated using all of Argentina as the reference population.


We found increasing trends for kidney and lung cancer mortality with arsenic exposure, with the following SMR, for men and women respectively: kidney cancer, 0.87, 1.33, 1.57 and 1.00, 1.36, 1.81; lung cancer, 0.92, 1.54, 1.77 and 1.24, 1.34, 2.16 (in all cases, P < 0.001 in trend test), similar to the previously reported bladder cancer results (0.80, 1.28, 2.14 for men, 1.22, 1.39, 1.81 for women). There was a small positive trend for liver cancer but mortality was increased in all three exposure groups. Skin cancer mortality was elevated for women only in the high exposure group, while men showed a puzzling increase in mortality in the low exposure group.


The results add to the evidence that arsenic ingestion increases the risk of lung and kidney cancers. In this study, the association between arsenic and mortality from liver and skin cancers was not clear.

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