A new analysis of government data is the first to link low-level arsenic exposure, possibly from drinking water, with type 2 diabetes, researchers say. Arsenic, an industrial pollutant, can also get into drinking water naturally when minerals dissolve.
The study’s limitations make more research necessary. And public water systems were on their way to meeting tougher U.S. arsenic standards as the data were collected.
Still, the analysis of 788 adults’ medical tests found a nearly fourfold increase in the risk of diabetes in people with low arsenic concentrations in their urine compared with people with even lower levels.
Research outside the United States has linked high levels of arsenic in drinking water with diabetes. It’s the link at low levels that’s new.
The findings appear in Wednesday’s Journal of the American Medical Association.
The United States lowered arsenic standards for public water systems to 10 parts per billion in 2001 because of known cancer risks. Compliance was required by 2006, years after the study data were collected in 2003 and 2004.