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Am J Epidemiol. 2013 Aug 1;178(3):372-81. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwt001. Epub 2013 Jun 20.

Arsenic exposure from drinking water, arsenic methylation capacity, and carotid intima-media thickness in Bangladesh.

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Departments of Population Health and Environmental Medicine, School of Medicine, New York University, 650 First Avenue, Room 510, New York, NY 10016, USA.


We conducted a cross-sectional study to evaluate the interrelationships between past arsenic exposure, biomarkers specific for susceptibility to arsenic exposure, and carotid intima-media thickness (cIMT) in 959 subjects from the Health Effects of Arsenic Longitudinal Study in Bangladesh. We measured cIMT levels on average 7.2 years after baseline during 2010-2011. Arsenic exposure was measured in well water at baseline and in urine samples collected at baseline and during follow-up. Every 1-standard-deviation increase in urinary arsenic (357.9 µg/g creatinine) and well-water arsenic (102.0 µg/L) concentration was related to a 11.7-µm (95% confidence interval (CI): 1.8, 21.6) and 5.1-µm (95% CI: -0.2, 10.3) increase in cIMT, respectively. For every 10% increase in monomethylarsonic acid (MMA) percentage, there was an increase of 12.1 µm (95% CI: 0.4, 23.8) in cIMT. Among participants with a higher urinary MMA percentage, a higher ratio of urinary MMA to inorganic arsenic, and a lower ratio of dimethylarsinic acid to MMA, the association between well-water arsenic and cIMT was stronger. The findings indicate an effect of past long-term arsenic exposure on cIMT, which may be potentiated by suboptimal or incomplete arsenic methylation capacity. Future prospective studies are needed to confirm the association between arsenic methylation capacity and atherosclerosis-related outcomes.


Bangladesh; arsenic; cardiovascular diseases; carotid intima-media thickness; drinking water

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