The role of nutritional factors in arsenic metabolism and toxicity is not clear. Provision of certain low protein diets resulted in decreased excretion of DMA and increased tissue retention of arsenic in experimental studies. This paper reports a prevalence comparison study conducted in Bangladesh to assess the nutritional status among the chronic arsenic exposed and unexposed population. 138 exposed individuals diagnosed as arsenicosis patients were selected from three known arsenic endemic villages of Bangladesh and age, sex matched 144 unexposed subjects were randomly selected from three arsenic free villages. The mean arsenic concentration in drinking water for the exposed and unexposed population was 641.15 and 13.5 microg L(-1) respectively. Body Mass Index was found to be lower than 18.5, the cut off point for malnutrition, in 57 (41.31%) out of 138 exposed arsenicosis cases and 31 (21.53%) out of 144 unexposed individuals. The crude prevalence ratio (or risk) was 1.92 (95% CI = 1.33-2.78) for poor nutritional status among the arsenicosis cases compared to the unexposed population. The findings of this study add to the evidence that poor nutritional status may increase an individual's susceptibility to chronic arsenic toxicity, or alternatively that arsenicosis may contribute to poor nutritional status.
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