Type 2 Diabetes – Obesity, Arsenic, and Diabetes

Being overweight or obese raises the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by contributing to inflammation in the body and free radicals. Arsenic has many of the same effects and …

  • can lead to high blood sugar levels, as well as
  • causing damage to the beta cells in the pancreas.

Scientists at the University of California in Berkeley, United States, and a variety of other research institutions in the United States and Chile, have discovered the exposure to arsenic, especially in obese individuals, can raise the risk of them developing Type 2 diabetes.

Their investigation reported on in July of 2018 in the journal Environmental Research, included 1053 individuals with known blood arsenic levels …

  • the participants with the highest arsenic levels were most likely to develop Type 2 diabetes, and this link was particularly significant in obese individuals.
  • the participants with a body mass index (BMI) of at least 30 – obese; there were almost two and a half times more likely to have Type 2 diabetes than the nonobese participants with lower arsenic exposure.

Arsenic exists in the Earth's crust and is taken up by plants, so it is in some of the food we eat …

  • seafood,
  • poultry,
  • rice and rice products

are unusually high in arsenic. According to Consumer Reports brown basmati rice from California, India, and Pakistan have the lowest arsenic content. Growing rice organically does not lower the arsenic content because arsenic is absorbed from the soil. Contaminated groundwater is another source.

Arsenic is released into the environment from arsenic-treated lumber in landfills and from power plants that burn coal. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, the United States, the following occupations, and industries put workers at risk for arsenic exposure …

  • construction and carpentry,
  • ore smelting,
  • semiconductor manufacturing,
  • metal alloy manufacturing,
  • chicken and pig farming,
  • electronics manufacturing, and
  • pesticide, insecticide, and herbicide application.

Signs and symptoms of arsenic toxicity include …

  • drowsiness,
  • headaches,
  • confusion,
  • diarrhea,
  • a metallic flavor in the mouth and "garlicky" breath,
  • abnormally copious amounts of saliva,
  • a difficulty with swallowing,
  • blood in the urine,
  • muscle cramps,
  • loss of hair,
  • abdominal cramps,
  • nausea and vomiting,
  • convulsions,
  • darkening skin,
  • thickening skin or new warts, and
  • numbness and tingling.

Blood and urine tests for arsenic poisoning are available. When arsenic is suspected electrocardiograms (EKGs), and nerve conduction studies are performed because arsenic can be toxic to the heart and nervous system.

Arsenic toxicity can also produce cancer of the …

  • bladder,
  • kidney,
  • liver,
  • prostate
  • lung – worst prognosis, and
  • skin – most common.

Low levels will probably not harm your health, but higher levels can cause some of the above health problems.