Chronic heavy metal exposure and gallbladder cancer risk in India, a comparative study with Japan

Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2012;13(1):187-90. doi: 10.7314/apjcp.2012.13.1.187.


Background: High incidence of gallbladder cancer (GBC) is reported from North India, with elevated concentrations of heavy metals in water and soil. This Indo-Japan collaborative study compared presence of heavy metals in gallbladder tissues.

Methods: Heavy metal concentrations were estimated in Indian GBC and cholecystitis tissues and compared with Japanese GBC and cholecystitis tissues. Spectrophotometry was done for 13 Indian gallbladder tissues (8 GBC, 5 cholecystitis) and 9 Japanese (5 GBC, 4 cholecystitis). Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) thin foil element analysis was done in 10 Indian samples (6 GBC, 4 cholecystitis).

Results: Chromium, lead, arsenic and zinc were significantly high in Indian GBC compared with Japanese GBC. Chromium, lead and arsenic were significantly high in the Indian cholecystitis tissues compared to the Japanese. TEM of Indian tissues demonstrated electron dense deposits in GBC.

Conclusion: Heavy metals- chromium, lead, arsenic and zinc are potential carcinogens in Indian GBC from endemic areas. This preliminary study links presence of heavy metals in gallbladder cancer tissues in endemic areas.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Cholecystitis / epidemiology*
  • Cholecystitis / etiology*
  • Gallbladder Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Gallbladder Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Humans
  • India / epidemiology
  • Japan / epidemiology
  • Metals, Heavy / adverse effects*
  • Metals, Heavy / analysis*
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Factors
  • Spectrophotometry


  • Metals, Heavy