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Case-control study of arsenic in drinking water and lung cancer in California and Nevada.

  • Author(s): Dauphiné, David C
  • Smith, Allan H
  • Yuan, Yan
  • Balmes, John R
  • Bates, Michael N
  • Steinmaus, Craig
  • et al.
Abstract

Millions of people are exposed to arsenic in drinking water, which at high concentrations is known to cause lung cancer in humans. At lower concentrations, the risks are unknown. We enrolled 196 lung cancer cases and 359 controls matched on age and gender from western Nevada and Kings County, California in 2002-2005. After adjusting for age, sex, education, smoking and occupational exposures, odds ratios for arsenic concentrations ≥85 µg/L (median = 110 µg/L, mean = 173 µg/L, maximum = 1,460 µg/L) more than 40 years before enrollment were 1.39 (95% CI = 0.55-3.53) in all subjects and 1.61 (95% CI = 0.59-4.38) in smokers. Although odds ratios were greater than 1.0, these increases may have been due to chance given the small number of subjects exposed more than 40 years before enrollment. This study, designed before research in Chile suggested arsenic-related cancer latencies of 40 years or more, illustrates the enormous sample sizes needed to identify arsenic-related health effects in low-exposure countries with mobile populations like the U.S. Nonetheless, our findings suggest that concentrations near 100 µg/L are not associated with markedly high relative risks.

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