Arsenic can enter the human body through contaminated water and food. And this can have a bad effect on human health, including causing cancer.
Human exposure to arsenic is a global public health problem. A 2020 study found that up to 200 million people worldwide are exposed to drinking water contaminated with arsenic.
The human body can absorb arsenic in various ways. Including inhalation of this substance and skin contact. However, the most common source of human exposure to arsenic is drinking water or food.
Those most at risk for the health effects of arsenic are those who live in areas with naturally high levels of arsenic in water and soil. In foods, arsenic is particularly prevalent in rice and rice-based products (rice flakes and crackers). Also, a 2019 study found that some brands of bottled water in the US contained levels of arsenic that exceeded the norm.
Chronic exposure to arsenic is known to increase the risk of developing several types of cancer. Research shows that arsenic can damage DNA, disrupt cell signaling pathways, and weaken the immune system. All these contribute to the development of cancer.
Additionally, scientists have linked chronic arsenic exposure to the development of cancer stem cells (that is, the cells responsible for the growth and spread of cancer).
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