Arsenic Methylation Capacity and Metabolic Syndrome in the 2013-2014 U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES)

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2018 Jan 22;15(1):168. doi: 10.3390/ijerph15010168.


Arsenic methylation capacity is associated with metabolic syndrome and its components among highly exposed populations. However, this association has not been investigated in low to moderately exposed populations. Therefore, we investigated arsenic methylation capacity in relation to the clinical diagnosis of metabolic syndrome in a low arsenic exposure population. Additionally, we compared arsenic methylation patterns present in our sample to those of more highly exposed populations. Using logistic regression models adjusted for relevant biological and lifestyle covariates, we report no association between increased arsenic methylation and metabolic syndrome in a population in which arsenic is regulated at 10 ppb in drinking water. However, we cannot rule out the possibility of a positive association between arsenic methylation and metabolic syndrome in a subsample of women with normal body mass index (BMI). To our knowledge this is the first investigation of arsenic methylation capacity with respect to metabolic syndrome in a low exposure population. We also report that methylation patterns in our sample are similar to those found in highly exposed populations. Additionally, we report that gender and BMI significantly modify the effect of arsenic methylation on metabolic syndrome. Future studies should evaluate the effectiveness of arsenic policy enforcement on subclinical biomarkers of cardiovascular disease.

Keywords: U.S. NHANES; arsenic; metabolic syndrome; methylation.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arsenic / metabolism*
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Metabolic Syndrome / epidemiology
  • Metabolic Syndrome / metabolism*
  • Methylation
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Surveys


  • Biomarkers
  • Arsenic