Skip Navigation
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Dot gov

The .gov means it’s official.
Federal government websites often end in .gov or .mil. Before sharing sensitive information, make sure you’re on a federal government site.


The site is secure.
The https:// ensures that you are connecting to the official website and that any information you provide is encrypted and transmitted securely.

Your Environment. Your Health.

Publication Detail

Title: Drinking Water Arsenic Contamination, Skin Lesions, and Malignancies: A Systematic Review of the Global Evidence.

Authors: Karagas, Margaret R; Gossai, Anala; Pierce, Brandon; Ahsan, Habibul

Published In Curr Environ Health Rep, (2015 Mar)

Abstract: Skin lesions and cancer are known manifestations of chronic exposure to arsenic contaminated drinking water. Epidemiologic data primarily comes from regions with exposures 1-2 orders of magnitude above the current World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines of 10 μg/L. Emerging evidence indicates that more common exposures may also be related to both noncancerous and cancerous changes to the skin. In this review, we focus on the body of epidemiologic literature that encompasses exposures within the WHO guidelines, excluding studies that lacked individual exposure estimates and case reports. For skin lesions and skin cancers, 15 and 10 studies were identified that met our criteria, respectively. For skin lesions, a consistent dose-response relationship with water arsenic has been observed, with increased risk evident at low- to moderate-dose exposure. Of the larger studies of specific histologic types of skin cancers, although with differing exposure definitions, there was evidence of dose-related relationships with both basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas. The effect of arsenic exposure on skin lesion risk is likely modified by genetic variants that influence arsenic metabolism. Accumulating evidence suggests that arsenic may increase risk of skin lesions and skin cancers at levels not previously considered harmful, and that genetic factors may influence risk.

PubMed ID: 26231242 Exiting the NIEHS site

MeSH Terms: Arsenic Poisoning/epidemiology; Arsenic/adverse effects*; Arsenic/analysis; Carcinoma, Basal Cell/chemically induced*; Carcinoma, Basal Cell/epidemiology; Carcinoma, Squamous Cell/chemically induced*; Carcinoma, Squamous Cell/epidemiology; Dose-Response Relationship, Drug; Drinking Water/adverse effects*; Drinking Water/analysis; Environmental Exposure/analysis; Global Health; Humans; Male; Skin Diseases/chemically induced*; Skin Diseases/epidemiology; Water Pollution, Chemical/adverse effects*; Water Pollution, Chemical/analysis

to Top