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Environ Health Perspect. 2006 Jul;114(7):1077-82.

Arsenic cancer risk confounder in southwest Taiwan data set.

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  • 1Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland, USA.


Quantitative analysis for the risk of human cancer from the ingestion of inorganic arsenic has been based on the reported cancer mortality experience in the blackfoot disease (BFD) -endemic area of southwest Taiwan. Linear regression analysis shows that arsenic as the sole etiologic factor accounts for only 21% of the variance in the village standardized mortality ratios for bladder and lung cancer. A previous study had reported the influence of confounders (township, BFD prevalence, and artesian well dependency) qualitatively, but they have not been introduced into a quantitative assessment. In this six-township study, only three townships (2, 4, and 6) showed a significant positive dose-response relationship with arsenic exposure. The other three townships (0, 3, and 5) demonstrated significant bladder and lung cancer risks that were independent of arsenic exposure. The data for bladder and lung cancer mortality for townships 2, 4, and 6 fit an inverse linear regression model (p < 0.001) with an estimated threshold at 151 microg/L (95% confidence interval, 42 to 229 microg/L) . Such a model is consistent with epidemiologic and toxicologic literature for bladder cancer. Exploration of the southwest Taiwan cancer mortality data set has clarified the dose-response relationship with arsenic exposure by separating out township as a confounding factor. Key words: arsenic, blackfoot disease, bladder cancer, cancer risk, confounder, dose-response relationship, southwest Taiwan, threshold model.

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