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Arsenic Exposure and Anemia in Bangladesh: A Population-Based Study

Heck, Julia E. PhD; Chen, Yu PhD; Grann, Victor R. MD; Slavkovich, Vesna MS; Parvez, Faruque MPH; Ahsan, Habibul MD, MMedSci

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: January 2008 - Volume 50 - Issue 1 - p 80-87
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e31815ae9d4
Original Articles

Objective: The purpose of this study was to examine the association between arsenic exposure and anemia, based on blood hemoglobin concentration.

Methods: Hemoglobin measures, skin lesions, arsenic exposure, and nutritional and demographic information were collected from 1954 Bangladeshi participants in the Health Effects of Arsenic Longitudinal Study. We used general linear modeling to assess the association between arsenic exposure and hemoglobin concentration, examining men and women separately.

Results: Arsenic exposure (urinary arsenic >200 μg/L) was negatively associated with hemoglobin among all men and among women with hemoglobin <10 d/L. Other predictors of anemia in men and women included older age, lower body mass index, and low intake of iron. Among women, the use of contraceptives predicted higher hemoglobin.

Conclusions: The study suggests an association between high arsenic exposure and anemia in Bangladesh.

From the Departments of Epidemiology (Dr Heck, Dr Grann, Dr Ahsan), Health Policy and Management (Dr Grann), Environmental and Health Sciences (Dr Slavkovich, Mr Parvez), Mailman School of Public Health, Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center, College of Physicians and Surgeons (Dr Grann), and Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy (Dr Heck), Columbia University, New York, NY; International Agency for Research on Cancer (Dr Heck), Lyon, France; Department of Environmental Medicine (Dr Chen), New York University School of Medicine, New York, NY; Department of Health Studies (Dr Ahsan), University of Chicago, Chicago, IL.

Address correspondence to: Habibul Ahsan, MD, MMedSc, Department of Health Studies, The University of Chicago, 5841 South Maryland Avenue, Suite N102, Chicago, IL 60637; E-mail:

©2008The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine