Mechanism of arsenic carcinogenesis: an integrated approach

Mutat Res. 2003 Dec 10;533(1-2):37-65. doi: 10.1016/j.mrfmmm.2003.07.009.


Epidemiological evidence shows an association between inorganic arsenic in drinking water and increased risk of skin, lung and bladder cancers. The lack of animal models has hindered mechanistic studies of arsenic carcinogenesis in the past, but some promising new models for these cancers are now available. The various forms of arsenic to which humans are exposed, either directly or via metabolism of inorganic arsenic to various methylated forms, further complicate the issue of mechanism, since these compounds can have different effects, both genotoxic and non-genotoxic. This review will try to integrate all of these issues, with a strong bias toward effects that are produced by environmentally relevant arsenic concentrations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arsenic / toxicity*
  • Arsenites / toxicity
  • Carcinogens / toxicity*
  • Cell Division
  • Chromosomal Instability
  • DNA Damage
  • DNA Methylation
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Gene Amplification
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Models, Animal
  • Neoplasms / chemically induced*


  • Arsenites
  • Carcinogens
  • Arsenic