July 14, 2009

Manganese: Good and bad for body

A U.S. researcher says manganese in the environment may correlate with both decreases and increases in cancer deaths.

The study, published online by Biological Trace Element Research, says airborne manganese was associated at the county level with a 14 percent decrease in total cancer deaths.

The study also finds a 43 percent decrease in breast cancer deaths and a 22 percent decrease in lung cancer deaths. However, there was up to a 28 percent increase in colon cancer deaths and a 26 percent increase in lung cancer deaths, both at the county level, related to the elevation of manganese in groundwater.

That's pretty astounding. These are the first data we know of to document a potential relationship between environmental manganese and population-level cancer death rates, lead researcher Dr. John Spangler of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C., says in a statement.

The positive association between groundwater manganese and specific cancer mortality rates might be a function of the high concentrations measured while the inverse relationship between air manganese and death rates might point toward adequate -- healthy -- county-level manganese exposures.