Nov 05, 2010

Study Shows Correlation Between Arsenic in Drinking Water and Stroke Risk

Researchers studied arsenic levels and hospitalization data from southeast Michigan

A study published in the journal Stroke suggests that people who live in areas with moderately elevated levels of arsenic in drinking water may have an increased risk of stroke, according to a report by Reuters. The study focused on the populations in southeast Michigan, since approximately 230,000 people there are exposed to levels of arsenic that exceed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) standards for drinking water. Researchers looked at variations in arsenic levels to see if there was a correlation with hospitalization for strokes. Although the study did show that counties with higher levels of arsenic had more hospitalizations for stroke, it could not prove that arsenic was the cause of the strokes. It does not suggest that arsenic levels the meet EPA regulations affect stroke risk.

Exposure to high levels of arsenic can lead to cancer, and have been linked to high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. These links make it plausible that exposure to moderately increased levels of arsenic could also be related to strokes, but the study could not prove a cause-and-effect relationship, said lead researcher Dr. Lynda D. Lisabeth in the report. She added that people should not worry about arsenic levels that meet EPA standards, since the study found no evidence that the guidelines were inadequate.