High arsenic in rice is associated with elevated genotoxic effects in humans

Sci Rep. 2013;3:2195. doi: 10.1038/srep02195.


Arsenic in drinking water may cause major deleterious health impacts including death. Although arsenic in rice has recently been demonstrated to be a potential exposure route for humans, there has been to date no direct evidence for the impact of such exposure on human health. Here we show for the first time, through a cohort study in West Bengal, India, involving over 400 human subjects not otherwise significantly exposed to arsenic through drinking water, elevated genotoxic effects, as measured by micronuclei (MN) in urothelial cells, associated with the staple consumption of cooked rice with >200 μg/kg arsenic. Further work is required to determine the applicability to populations with different dietary and genetic characteristics, but with over 3 billion people in the world consuming rice as a staple food and several percent of this rice containing such elevated arsenic concentrations, this study raises considerable concerns over the threat to human health.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arsenic / toxicity*
  • Arsenic / urine
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Female
  • Food Contamination*
  • Humans
  • India
  • Male
  • Micronuclei, Chromosome-Defective / chemically induced
  • Micronucleus Tests
  • Middle Aged
  • Mutagens / toxicity
  • Oryza / chemistry*
  • Risk Factors
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical
  • Young Adult


  • Mutagens
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical
  • Arsenic