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Increased childhood liver cancer mortality and arsenic in drinking

By Cancer Epidemiol, Biomarkers Prev, Pmc August, Jane Liaw, Guillermo Marshall, Yan Yuan, Catterina Ferreccio, Craig Steinmaus and Allan H. Smith


Arsenic in drinking water is an established cause of lung, bladder and skin cancers in adults, and may also cause adult kidney and liver cancer. Some evidence for these effects originated from Region II of Chile which had a period of elevated arsenic levels in drinking water, in particular from 1958 to 1970. This unique exposure scenario provides a rare opportunity to investigate the effects of earlylife arsenic exposure on childhood mortality; to our knowledge, this is the first study of childhood cancer mortality and high concentrations of arsenic in drinking water. In this paper, we compare cancer mortality rates under the age of 20 in Region II during 1950–2000 with those of unexposed Region V, dividing subjects into those born before, during or after the peak exposure period. Mortality from the most common childhood cancers, leukemia and brain cancer, were not increased in the exposed population. However, we found childhood liver cancer mortality occurred at higher rates than expected; for those exposed as young children liver cancer mortality between ages 0–19 was especially high: the relative risk (RR) for males born during this period was 8.9 (95 % CI 1.7–45.8; p=0.009), for females the corresponding RR was 14.1 (95 % CI 1.6–126; p=0.018), and for males and females pooled, the RR was 10.6 (95 % CI 2.9–39.2; p<0.001). These findings suggest exposure to arsenic in drinking water during early childhood may result in an increase in childhood liver cancer mortality

Year: 2011
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