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Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2010 Feb 1;242(3):247-55. doi: 10.1016/j.taap.2009.10.014. Epub 2009 Oct 27.

Adverse health effects due to arsenic exposure: modification by dietary supplementation of jaggery in mice.

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Preventive Toxicology Division, Indian Institute of Toxicology Research, M. G. Marg, P.O. Box No. 80, Lucknow 226001, India.


Populations of villages of eastern India and Bangladesh and many other parts of the world are exposed to arsenic mainly through drinking water. Due to non-availability of safe drinking water they are compelled to depend on arsenic-contaminated water. Generally, poverty level is high in those areas and situation is compounded by the lack of proper nutrition. The hypothesis that the deleterious health effects of arsenic can be prevented by modification of dietary factors with the availability of an affordable and indigenous functional food jaggery (sugarcane juice) has been tested in the present study. Jaggery contains polyphenols, vitamin C, carotene and other biologically active components. Arsenic as sodium-m-arsenite at low (0.05 ppm) and high (5 ppm) doses was orally administered to Swiss male albino mice, alone and in combination with jaggery feeding (250 mg/mice), consecutively for 180 days. The serum levels of total antioxidant, glutathione peroxidase and glutathione reductase were substantially reduced in arsenic-exposed groups, while supplementation of jaggery enhanced their levels in combined treatment groups. The serum levels of interleukin-1beta, interleukin-6 and TNF-alpha were significantly increased in arsenic-exposed groups, while in the arsenic-exposed and jaggery supplemented groups their levels were normal. The comet assay in bone marrow cells showed the genotoxic effects of arsenic, whereas combination with jaggery feeding lessened the DNA damage. Histopathologically, the lung of arsenic-exposed mice showed the necrosis and degenerative changes in bronchiolar epithelium with emphysema and thickening of alveolar septa which was effectively antagonized by jaggery feeding. These results demonstrate that jaggery, a natural functional food, effectively antagonizes many of the adverse effects of arsenic.

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