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J Agric Food Chem. 2008 Apr 9;56(7):2536-40. doi: 10.1021/jf0731797. Epub 2008 Mar 7.

Cancer risk to Japanese population from the consumption of inorganic arsenic in cooked hijiki.

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School of Allied Health Sciences, Kitasato University, Sagamihara, Kanagawa, Japan.


The cancer risk posed by inorganic arsenic (iAs) ingestion via the consumption of hijiki seaweed, a common Japanese food item known to accumulate pentavalent arsenic, was estimated. Fourteen households were asked to supply three portions of cooked hijiki (boiled and fried with vegetables and fried bean curd, etc.), as usually cooked and served per person in each household. The monthly consumption frequency of cooked hijiki was assessed by questionnaire: it was typically two to three times a month in most households. The mean daily consumption of cooked hijiki was estimated to be 6.5 g/day (range = 1.1-14 g/day, median = 5.5 g/day) by multiplying one serving quantity (grams) by the monthly frequency of consumption. The concentration of iAs [As(III) + As(V)] in the cooked hijiki was determined after homogenization, freeze-drying, 0.07 mol/L HCl extraction, and high-performance liquid chromatography-inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (HPLC-ICPMS). The concentration of iAs ranged from 0.4 to 2.8 mg/kg (wet weight basis) in the cooked hijiki, and iAs intake from cooked hijiki was calculated to be 0.0005-0.023 mg/day. On the basis of these data and the oral slope factor [1.5E0 (mg/kg/day) (-1)] reported by the U.S. EPA for iAs, the mean skin cancer risk through cooked hijiki consumption was calculated to be 2.4 x 10(-4) (range = 1.6 x 10(-6) -7.0 x 10(-4)), which exceeded the acceptable level of 10(-5). Taking the risk of other cancers (bladder, lung, etc.) into consideration, the contribution to cancer occurrence through the consumption of hijiki seaweed may not be negligible.

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