Arsenic exposure through drinking water increases the risk of liver and cardiovascular diseases in the population of West Bengal, India

BMC Public Health. 2012 Aug 10;12:639. doi: 10.1186/1471-2458-12-639.


Background: Arsenic is a natural drinking water contaminant affecting 26 million people in West Bengal, India. Chronic arsenic exposure causes cancer, cardiovascular disease, liver disease, neuropathies and ocular diseases. The aims of the present study were to assess bioindicators of hepatocellular injury as indicated by the levels of liver enzymes, to determine the auto immune status, as indicated by the amounts of anti-nuclear antibodies (ANA) and anti-dsDNA antibodies in their serum, and to predict cardiovascular risk in the arsenic exposed population.

Methods: Effect of chronic arsenic exposure on liver was determined by liver function tests. Autoimmune status was measured by measuring ANA and anti-dsDNA in serum. Inflammatory cytokines associated with increased cardiovascular disease risk, IL6, IL8 and MCP-1 were determined.

Results: Our results indicated that serum levels of bilirubin, alanine transaminase, aspartate transaminase, alkaline phosphatase and ANA were increased in the arsenic exposed population. Serum levels of IL6 and IL8 also increased in the arsenic exposed group.

Conclusions: Chronic arsenic exposure causes liver injury, increases the serum levels of autoimmune markers and imparts increased cardiovascular risk.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antibodies, Antinuclear / blood
  • Arsenic / analysis*
  • Arsenic Poisoning / physiopathology*
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / blood
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Chemokine CCL2 / blood
  • Drinking Water / chemistry*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • India
  • Interleukin-6 / blood
  • Interleukin-8 / blood
  • Liver / immunology
  • Liver / injuries*
  • Liver / physiopathology
  • Liver Diseases / blood
  • Liver Diseases / etiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Assessment / methods
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / poisoning*
  • Young Adult


  • Antibodies, Antinuclear
  • Biomarkers
  • Chemokine CCL2
  • Drinking Water
  • Interleukin-6
  • Interleukin-8
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical
  • Arsenic