New research suggests that drinking arsenic-laden water can produce dangerous narrowing in the carotid artery, which channels blood through the neck to the brain. The newly identified arsenic risk joins a slew of health problems, including other cardiovascular conditions and several cancers, previously linked to consumption of the poisonous metal.
"Long-term arsenic exposure may lead to the progression or acceleration of carotid artery disease," says Chien-Jen Chen of National Taiwan University in Taipei, a member of the study team.
The metal's hormone-disrupting actions may underlie some of its poisonous effects (SN: 3/17/01, p. 164: Arsenic Pollution Disrupts Hormones). Other problems may result from growth that arsenic might trigger in tissues such as those that line artery walls, says Aaron Barchowsky of Dartmouth Medical School in Hanover, N.H.
Several U.S. states and parts of countries such as Bangladesh, Chile, and Taiwan have natur