TitleA cross sectional study of anemia and iron deficiency as risk factors for arsenic-induced skin lesions in Bangladeshi women
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsKile, ML, Faraj, JM, Ronnenberg, AG, Quamruzzaman, Q, Rahman, M, Mostofa, G, Afroz, S, Christiani, DC
JournalBMC Public Health
Date Published02/2016

Background In the Ganges Delta, chronic arsenic poisoning is a health concern affecting millions of people who rely on groundwater as their potable water source. The prevalence of anemia is also high in this region, particularly among women. Moreover, arsenic is known to affect heme synthesis and erythrocytes and the risk of arsenic-induced skin lesions appears to differ by sex. Methods We conducted a case-control study in 147 arsenic-exposed Bangladeshi women to assess the association between anemia and arsenic-induced skin lesions. Results We observed that the odds of arsenic-related skin lesions were approximately three times higher among women who were anemic (hemoglobin < 120 g/L) compared to women with normal hemoglobin levels [Odds Ratio (OR) = 3.32, 95 % Confidence Intervals (CI): 1.29, 8.52] after adjusting for arsenic levels in drinking water and other covariates. Furthermore, 75 % of the women with anemia had adequate iron stores (serum ferritin ≥12 μg/L), suggesting that the majority of anemia detected in this population was unrelated to iron depletion. Conclusions Considering the magnitude of arsenic exposure and prevalence of anemia in Bangladeshi women, additional research is warranted that identifies the causes of anemia so that effective interventions can be implemented while arsenic remediation efforts continue.