Investigating the Association between Arsenic Exposure and Chronic Disease Using Toenail Speciation Biomarkers: A Pilot Study in Atlantic Canada
Smith, Nathan Kyle
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With the support of Atlantic PATH, this study has used the world’s largest collection of toenail samples to investigate the association between chronic disease and arsenic speciation. The results of our study showed no difference in total arsenic body burden between healthy individuals and those with type II diabetes, or skin, lung, bladder, or kidney cancer. However, there was a statistically significant difference in the composition of arsenic between the groups. Specifically, a higher proportion of monomethylarsenic acid (MMA) was found in the disease groups, compared to healthy individuals. This is the first study to investigate chronic disease using arsenic speciation in toenails, a non-invasive, biobankable, longer-term biomarker. These preliminary data provide solid evidence that toenail arsenic speciation research in the context of chronic disease is both feasible, and could potentially have important implications for health.