The National Cancer Institute has awarded the Arizona Cancer Center at the University of Arizona Health Sciences Center a three-year grant to evaluate associations between elevated arsenic exposure and cancer incidence in Arizona and Mexico.
A binational team from Arizona and Sonora will evaluate arsenic exposure from the environment and its potential carcinogenic effects, said NCI official Dr. Jorge Gomez.
The $1.3 million arsenic study involves collaborators at the University of Arizona, the University of Sonora, and the Institute Technological of Sonora in Mexico.
Dr. Raymond L. Woosley, UA vice president for health sciences, said this type of scientific collaboration that will lead both to health benefits and binational collaborative research essential for the new Institute for Global Pharmaceutical Development that is planned for Tucson.
The project includes two research perspectives: research to determine the effect of arsenic and arsenic metabolites on cell proliferation in colon cancer cell lines; and a pilot study to evaluate these associations in human populations living in Arizona and Mexico at varying background arsenic exposure levels. This will provide preliminary data for future studies of the relationship between potential environmental exposures, such as arsenic and cancer.
Arsenic in the environment exists in several oxidative and physical states, with a major source of exposure through drinking water. Arsenic, either inhaled or ingested, is associated with cancers of the skin, bladder and lungs carcinogen. Only limited attention has been paid to the effect of arsenic on gastrointestinal cancers.
The American Cancer Society estimates that more than 250,000 U.S. citizens will develop GI cancer this year; approximately 135,000 will die. Led by cancer of the colon, GI cancers account for almost one-quarter of U.S. cancer deaths.