Effect of fasting on the pattern of urinary arsenic excretion

Eid I. Brima, Richard O. Jenkins, Paul R. Lythgoe, Andrew G. Gault, Dave A. Polya, Parvez I. Haris

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Millions of people in some of the poorest regions of the world are exposed to high levels of arsenic through drinking contaminated water. It has been reported that development of cancer caused by arsenic exposure in such populations is dependent on dietary and nutritional factors which can modulate arsenic metabolism. Many people in arsenic exposed regions of Bangladesh and India practice fasting for at least one month every year when they refrain from consumption of food and fluid during daylight hours. How such practices may modulate arsenic metabolism has not been previously investigated. This study investigated this issue by determining total arsenic and its species in urine samples from a group of 29 unexposed volunteers at the beginning of the fasting and at the end of approximately 12 h of fasting period. Inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) and high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) coupled with ICP-MS was used to measure the total arsenic and arsenic speciation in the urine samples, respectively. The mean total levels of arsenic at the beginning of fasting (18.3 μg g-1 creatinine) and at the end of approximately 12 h of fasting (17.7 μg g-1 creatinine) did not differ significantly (p > 0.05). However, the percentages of urinary arsenic as the methylated arsenic species methylarsonate (MA) were found to be significantly different (p <0.05) and this species was observed more frequently at the end of fasting, although its overall concentration was similar. There were no significant differences (p > 0.05) in both the concentrations and percentages of other urinary arsenic species detected, namely arsenobetaine (AB) and dimethylarsinate (DMA). Arsenite (As(iii)) and arsenate (As(v)) were also analyzed, but were not detected. We conclude that fasting for a period of 12 h results in a significant increase in the percentage of urinary arsenic as MA, and its frequency of detection in the volunteers at the end of the fasting period is almost nine fold higher. This suggests that metabolism of arsenic is altered by fasting. © The Royal Society of Chemistry.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)98-103
    Number of pages5
    JournalJournal of Environmental Monitoring
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2007




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