Arsenic poisoning and nutrition
Arsenic poisoning and nutrition David Alnwick 16.10.97
Re: ARSENIC POISONING AND NUTRITION - ANY LINK? Mike Golden 17.10.97
Re: ARSENIC POISONING AND NUTRITION - ANY LINK? Ladda MO-SUWAN 17.10.97
Re: Arsenic poisoning and nutrition : any link ? Florence Egal 17.10.97
Re: ARSENIC and vitamin A Mike Golden 17.10.97


Date: Thu, 16 Oct 1997 16:24:13 -0400

From: dalnwickathqfaus01.unicef.org (David Alnwick)

Subject: ARSENIC POISONING AND NUTRITION - ANY LINK?

 

 

Dear Mike, NGO Nutrition Network,

I write from UNICEF Nutrition Section, but in a personal capacity.

Many of you may be aware of the 'epidemic' of arsenic poisoning in which large numbers of families in Bangladesh, India and elsewhere are being tragically poisoned from drinking water contaminated by natural geological deposits of arsenic. I am aware that UNICEF, WHO and the World Bank, as well as National Governments and many other organisations are undertaking efforts to try to improve the situation. My question to you is about possible interactions with malnutrition, or micronutrient malnutrition.

I am aware that there is good evidence that iron deficiency anemia pre-disposes to lead poisoning. Looking at the position of arsenic in the periodic table, it is in the same group, immediately below phosphorous, and has sulphur and selenium as near neighbours. I wonder if anyone has any knowledge or views on whether there may be nutritional factors, such as P, S or Se deficiency, which may increase vulnerability of individuals to the effects of ingested As.


Date: Fri, 17 Oct 1997 14:31:56 +0100

From: Michael Golden <m.goldenatabdn.ac.uk>

Subject: Re: ARSENIC POISONING AND NUTRITION - ANY LINK?

 

Dear David,

There is a potent interaction between arsnic and selenium. Early work in rats and chickens showed that arsnic poisoning can be avoided by giving selenium - and selenium poisoning can be prevented by giving arsnic.

Indeed, I suggested that selenium should be tested as a specific treatment for the arsenical encephalopathy that occurs in the treatment of trypanosomiasis ( Lancet 1992;339:1413).

The mechanism of the interaction does not seem to be entirely clear: whatever the details there is an arsnic-selenium complex formed that is excreted in the bile.

The nutritional importance of selenium is being increasingly recognised.

The enzyme that converts T4 to T3 is succeptible to selenium deficiency and so greatly exacerbates the effect of iodine deficiency and makes goitres much worse (marginal iodine with adequate selenium is without effect, marginal iodine with inadequate selenium gives goitre). Selenium is also critically involved with maintenace of cellular redox state, the level of thioredoxin and the protection against free radiacl stress. My data from Jamaica shows that selenium level (glutathione peroxidase) is a powerful prognostic indicator and that malnourished children with very low selenium levels are much more likely to die, and are more likly to get kwashiorkor rather than marasmus when they get malnourished.

Selenium levels in crops vary with the geochimistry of the region. It is particularly likely where there are old parent rocks, where there is a heavy rainfall and the ground is waterlogged/high water table, and where there is iron in the soil (red soil). These conditions apply to much of the wet tropics. ( with respect to malnutrition we have addressed this in: Golden MH, Golden BE. Trace elements in malnourished populations. In: Hurley LS, Keen CL, Lonnerdal B, Rucker RB, eds. Trace element metabolism in man and animals - 6. New york: Plenum Press, 1988:197-201).

I think that arsnic induced selenium deficiency is thus a real possiblility that should be looked at urgently in this population. Further as the interaction is two-way. Not only will the arsnic induce selenium deficiency, but also a low selenium intake will make arsnic poisoning much worse because it accumulates rather than being eliminated. Increasing the selenium intake (within limits) would be one immediate and good way of managing those that are exposed to arsnic. I wonder if the best way of achieving this would be to put measured doses of selenium into the same drinking water that is high in arsnic.

I have spoken to Colin Mills about your letter and he will respond with other comments.

 

Best wishes,

Prof. Michael H.N.Golden


Date: Fri, 17 Oct 1997 17:19:40 +0700 (GMT)

From: Ladda MO-SUWAN <mladdaatratree.psu.ac.th>

Subject: Re: ARSENIC POISONING AND NUTRITION - ANY LINK?

 

I write from southern Thailand where arsenic contamination is also a problem though in a much smaller scale than that of India.

I would like to follow David's question on the nutrient-arsenic interaction. I wonder whether there is any association between vitamin A and clinical disease from arsenic. Since chronic arsenic intoxication causes skin disease, pre-malignant Bowen disease and other malignancies.

I wonder if vitamin A can protect or treat this intoxication.

 

Ladda Mo-suwan,MD

Department of Pediatrics, Faculty of Medicine, Prince of Songkla University

Hat Yai, Songkhla 90112, Thailand

Tel : 66-74-212070-9 ext 1251, 1273; Fax : 66-74-212900 , 66-74-212903

Internet : mladdaatratree.psu.ac.th


Date: Fri, 17 Oct 1997 17:34:00 +0200

From: "Egal, Florence (ESNP)" <Florence.Egalatfao.org>

Subject: FW: ARSENIC POISONING AND NUTRITION - ANY LINK?

 

You may find some information regarding arsenic in foods in the FAO Food and Nutrition Paper numéro 9 (1979). Also in the WHO/IPCS document "Environmental Health Criteria series numero 18 (1981)" on arsenic.


Date: Fri, 17 Oct 1997 14:39:41 +0100

From: Michael Golden <m.goldenatabdn.ac.uk>

Subject: Re: ARSENIC and vitamin A

 

Dear Ladda,

In terms of a possible arsenic -vitamin A link, I think that this is related to free radical protection. Arsenic, by interfering with selenium status could be classed as a pro-oxidant (hence its effect as a cancer promoter and also making the skin vulnerable to radical stress, from, for example, sun light. The carotenoids are themselves generally antioxidants, and vitamin A is succeptible to accelerated depletion from radical reactions. So, I do think that there could well be a synergism between vitamin A deficiency (and several other antioxidant vitamins) and arsnic intoxicatin - but it is not at all straightforward.

 

Best wishes,

Prof. Michael H.N.Golden