UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Arsenic in Drinking Water and Urinary Tract Cancers : A Systematic Review Update Issanov, Alpamys; Adewusi, Betty; Dummer, Trevor J. B.; Saint-Jacques, Nathalie


Problem: There remains uncertainty around cancer risk at lower levels of arsenic in drinking water. This study updates evidence from our previous review on the relationship between arsenic in drinking water and urinary bladder and kidney cancers (updated search January 2013 to February 2023). Method: Thirty-four studies were retained for review; six met criteria for inclusion in meta-analysis. Risk estimates for bladder and kidney cancer incidence and mortality were analyzed separately using Bayesian multilevel linear models. Results: For bladder cancer incidence, the estimated posterior mean relative risks (RRs) were 1.25 (0.92–1.73), 2.11 (1.18–4.22) and 3.01 (1.31–8.17) at arsenic concentrations of 10, 50 and 150 μg/L, respectively, with posterior probabilities of 92%, 99% and 100%, respectively, for the RRs to be >1. The corresponding RRs for kidney cancer were 1.37 (1.07–1.77), 1.95 (1.44–2.65) and 2.47 (1.74–3.52), with posterior probabilities of 100%. For bladder cancer, the posterior mean mortality ratios were 1.36 (0.35–6.39), 2.92 (1.24–7.82) and 4.88 (2.83–9.03) with posterior probabilities of 72%, 99% and 100%, respectively. Conclusions: The findings show increased bladder and kidney cancer risks at lower levels of arsenic in drinking water. Given that many people worldwide are exposed to lower levels of arsenic in drinking water, the public health impacts are substantial.

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