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Drinking water or contaminated food is a common source of arsenic, how does this cause cancer?



University Park, (The Conversation): Arsenic is a natural element. It is found on the surface of the earth. Exposure to arsenic, often through contaminated food and water, has been shown to cause a variety of negative health effects, including cancer.

Arsenic exposure is a global public health problem. A 2020 study estimated that 200 million people worldwide are exposed to drinking water contaminated with arsenic at levels above the legal limit of ten parts per billion set by the US Environmental Protection Agency. environment and the World Health Organization. More than 70 countries are affected including America, Spain, Mexico, Japan, India, China, Canada, Chile, Bangladesh, Bolivia and Argentina.

Since many countries are still affected by high levels of arsenic, we believe that exposure to arsenic is a global public health problem that requires urgent action. We are studying how exposure to toxic metals like arsenic can trigger cancer stem cells and eventually lead to cancer.

Arsenic contamination of food and water
Your body can absorb arsenic in several ways, such as through inhalation and skin contact. However, the most common source of exposure to arsenic is drinking water or contaminated food. People who live in areas where arsenic levels in soil and water are naturally high are particularly at risk. In the United States, for example, this includes regions such as Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico in the southwest. Additionally, human activities such as mining and agriculture can also increase arsenic in food and water sources.

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High levels of arsenic can also be found in food and drink products, especially rice and rice products such as rice cereals and crackers. A 2019 Consumer Reports survey also found that some brands of bottled water sold in the United States had arsenic levels above the legal limit. Worryingly, several studies have also found that the amount of arsenic in many popular brands of baby food is well above the legal limit.

Arsenic and cancer stem cells
Long-term exposure to arsenic increases the risk of developing several types of cancer. The mechanism by which arsenic causes cancer is complex and not yet fully understood. However, research shows that arsenic can damage DNA, disrupt cell signaling pathways, and impair the immune system. All of these can contribute to the development of cancer.

Scientists have also linked chronic arsenic exposure to the development of cancer stem cells. It is the tumor cells that are believed to be responsible for the growth and spread of cancer. Like normal stem cells in the body, cancer stem cells can develop into many different cell types. At what stage of cell development a stem cell acquires the genetic mutation that turns it into a cancerous stem cell remains unknown.

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The objective of our research is to identify the types of cells targeted by arsenic to create cancer stem cells. We are currently using cell cultures obtained from the same organ at different stages of cell development to study how cell origin affects cancer stem cell formation.

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Preventing chronic exposure to arsenic is important to reduce the burden of arsenic-related health effects. Further research is needed to understand arsenic-induced cancer stem cell formation and develop effective strategies to prevent it. In the meantime, continued monitoring and regulation of this toxic metal in food and water sources can help improve the health of affected communities.

Keywords: America, cancer, drink water, food