Background: The long-term effects of arsenic exposure from drinking water at levels < 300 microg/L and the risk of diabetes mellitus remains a controversial topic.
Method: We conducted a population-based cross-sectional study using baseline data from 11,319 participants in the Health Effects of Arsenic Longitudinal Study in Araihazar, Bangladesh, to evaluate the associations of well water arsenic and total urinary arsenic concentration and the prevalence of diabetes mellitus and glucosuria. We also assessed the concentrations of well water arsenic, total urinary arsenic, and urinary arsenic metabolites in relation to blood glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c) levels in subsets of the study population.
Results: More than 90% of the cohort members were exposed to drinking water with arsenic concentration < 300 microg/L. We found no association between arsenic exposure and the prevalence of diabetes. The adjusted odds ratios for diabetes were 1.00 (referent), 1.35 [95% confidence interval (CI), 0.90-2.02], 1.24 (0.82-1.87), 0.96 (0.62-1.49), and 1.11 (0.73-1.69) in relation to quintiles of time-weighted water arsenic concentrations of 0.1-8, 8-41, 41-91, 92-176, and > or = 177 microg/L, respectively, and 1.00 (referent), 1.29 (0.87-1.91), 1.05 (0.69-1.59), 0.94 (0.61-1.44), and 0.93 (0.59-1.45) in relation to quintiles of urinary arsenic concentrations of 1-36, 37-66, 67-114, 115-204, and > or = 205 microg/L, respectively. We observed no association between arsenic exposure and prevalence of glucosuria and no evidence of an association between well water arsenic, total urinary arsenic, or the composition of urinary arsenic metabolites and HbA1c level.
Conclusions: Our findings do not support an association of arsenic exposure from drinking water and a significantly increased risk of diabetes mellitus in the range of levels observed. Further prospective studies would be valuable in confirming the findings.