Arsenic exposure in Indo Gangetic plains of Bihar causing increased cancer risk


Reportedly, 300 million people worldwide are affected by the consumption of arsenic contaminated groundwater. India prominently figures amongst them and the state of Bihar has shown an upsurge in cases affected by arsenic poisoning. Escalated arsenic content in blood, leaves 1 in every 100 human being highly vulnerable to being affected by the disease. Uncontrolled intake may lead to skin, kidney, liver, bladder, or lung related cancer but even indirect forms of cancer are showing up on a regular basis with abnormal arsenic levels as the probable cause. But despite the apparent relation, the etiology has not been understood clearly. Blood samples of 2000 confirmed cancer patients were collected from pathology department of our institute. For cross-sectional design, 200 blood samples of subjects free from cancer from arsenic free pockets of Patna urban agglomeration, were collected. Blood arsenic levels in carcinoma patients as compared to sarcomas, lymphomas and leukemia were found to be higher. The geospatial map correlates the blood arsenic with cancer types and the demographic area of Gangetic plains. Most of the cancer patients with high blood arsenic concentration were from the districts near the river Ganges. The raised blood arsenic concentration in the 2000 cancer patients strongly correlates the relationship of arsenic with cancer especially the carcinoma type which is more vulnerable. The average arsenic concentration in blood of the cancer patients in the Gangetic plains denotes the significant role of arsenic which is present in endemic proportions. Thus, the study significantly correlates and advocates a strong relation of the deleterious element with the disease. It also underlines the need to address the problem by deciphering the root cause of the elevated cancer incidences in the Gangetic basin of Bihar and its association with arsenic poisoning.

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Scientific Reports