August 31, 2009

Arsenic elimination varies among humans

Researchers in Austria say they found wide variations in how people absorb arsenic into their bodies.

Study leader Kevin Francesconi of the University of Graz in Austria finds the ability to eliminate arsenic from the body ranging from study participants who eliminated 95 percent of the ingested arsenic to others who eliminated as little as 4 percent.

The study, published in Chemical Research in Toxicology, points out standards in many parts of the world -- including areas of the United States -- are already above World Health Organization maximum acceptable levels. Moreover, those who absorb arsenic may be in danger of arsenic exposure from eating seafood.

The data presented here suggest that the long held view that seafood arsenic is harmless because it is present mainly as organoarsenic compounds needs to be reassessed, the study authors say in a statement.

The health effects from chronic arsenic exposure include skin and internal cancers, cardiovascular disease and possibly diabetes.