To elucidate the associations of arsenic-induced skin cancer with serum β-carotene level and arsenic methylation capability, a total of 654 residents of age 30 or older were recruited from three arseniasis- hyperendemic villages in Taiwan and regularly examined for skin lesions during the follow-up period. There were 33 cases affected with newly diagnosed skin cancer during the follow-up, giving an incidence of 14.74 per 1000 person-years. Although most study subjects had stopped consuming high- arsenic artesian well water more than 20 years ago, the risk of skin cancer was found to increase significantly with cumulative arsenic exposure before the cessation of drinking artesian well water in a dose-response relationship. Frozen serum samples collected at the recruitment from newly developed skin cancer cases and matched controls were tested for β-carotene levels by high-performance liquid chromatography. Frozen urine samples of these subjects wore examined by high-performance liquid chromatography to speciate arsenite (AsIII), arsenate (AsV), monomethylarsonic acid (MMA), and dimethylarsinic acid and then quantitated by hydride generator combined with atomic absorption spectrometry. Skin cancer cases had a significantly lower serum level of 10-carotene than matched healthy controls. Although the primary methylation capability indexed by the ratio of MMA/(AsIII + AsV) was greater in cases than in controls, the secondary methylation capability indexed by the ratio of dimethylarsinic acid/MMA was lower in cases than in controls. An elevated proportion of MMA in total urinary arsenic level was associated with an increased risk of skin cancer. Subjects with a cumulative arsenic exposure of ≤20.0 mg/liter-year and a proportion of MMA in total urinary arsenic level >26.7% had a multivariate-adjusted odds ratio of developing skin cancer as high as 20.91 (95% confidence interval, 2.63166.5) compared with those who had a cumulative arsenic exposure of

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)589-596
Number of pages8
JournalCancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Oncology


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