Background: Chronic high arsenic exposure is associated with squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of the skin, and inorganic arsenic (iAs) metabolites may play an important role in this association. However, little is known about the carcinogenicity of arsenic at levels commonly observed in the United States.
Objective: We estimated associations between total urinary arsenic and arsenic species and SCC in a U.S. population.
Methods: We conducted a population-based case-control SCC study (470 cases, 447 controls) in a U.S. region with moderate arsenic exposure through private well water and diet. We measured urinary iAs, monomethylarsonic acid (MMA), and dimethylarsinic acid (DMA), and summed these arsenic species (ΣAs). Because seafood contains arsenolipids and arsenosugars that metabolize into DMA through alternate pathways, participants who reported seafood consumption within 2 days before urine collection were excluded from the analyses.
Results: In adjusted logistic regression analyses (323 cases, 319 controls), the SCC odds ratio (OR) was 1.37 for each ln-transformed microgram per liter increase in ln-transformed ΣAs concentration [ln(ΣAs)] (95% CI: 1.04, 1.80). Urinary ln(MMA) and ln(DMA) also were positively associated with SCC (OR = 1.34; 95% CI: 1.04, 1.71 and OR = 1.34; 95% CI: 1.03, 1.74, respectively). A similar trend was observed for ln(iAs) (OR = 1.20; 95% CI: 0.97, 1.49). Percent iAs, MMA, and DMA were not associated with SCC.
Conclusions: These results suggest that arsenic exposure at levels common in the United States relates to SCC and that arsenic metabolism ability does not modify the association.