A dose-response analysis of skin cancer from inorganic arsenic in drinking water

Risk Anal. 1989 Dec;9(4):519-28. doi: 10.1111/j.1539-6924.1989.tb01263.x.


A study of the prevalence of skin cancer among 40,421 persons consuming arsenic-contaminated drinking water in Taiwan was used for a cancer dose-response assessment of ingested arsenic. The numbers of persons at risk over three dose intervals and four exposure durations were estimated from the data in order to apply the method of maximum likelihood to a multistage-Weibull time/dose-response model. A constant exposure level since birth for each of the exposure categories was assumed. It was found that the cumulative hazard increases as a power of three in age, and is linear or quadratic (with a linear coefficient) in dose. Observations from a smaller epidemiologic survey in Mexico were similar to what would be predicted from the model of the Taiwan data. Assuming that the skin cancer risk from ingested arsenic in the American population would also be similar to the Taiwan population, an American male would have a lifetime risk of developing skin cancer of 1.3 x 10(-3) (3.0 x 10(-3] if exposed to 1 microgram/kg/day for a 76-year lifespan (median lifespan in the U.S.).

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Arsenic / administration & dosage
  • Arsenic / adverse effects*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Epidemiologic Methods
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mexico / epidemiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Statistical
  • Risk Factors
  • Skin Neoplasms / chemically induced*
  • Skin Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Taiwan / epidemiology
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / adverse effects


  • Water Pollutants, Chemical
  • Arsenic