Arsenic Exposure in Relation to Ischemic Stroke: The Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke Study

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Background and Purpose—The purpose of this case–cohort study was to examine urinary arsenic levels in relation to incident ischemic stroke in the United States.Methods—We performed a case–cohort study nested within the REGARDS (REasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke) cohort. A subcohort (n=2486) of controls was randomly sampled within region–race–sex strata while all incident ischemic stroke cases from the full REGARDS cohort (n=671) were included. Baseline urinary arsenic was measured by inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry. Arsenic species, including urinary inorganic arsenic and its metabolites monomethylarsonic acid and dimethylarsinic acid, were measured in a random subset (n=199). Weighted Cox’s proportional hazards models were used to calculate hazard ratios and 95% confidence intervals of ischemic stroke by arsenic and its species.Results—The average follow-up was 6.7 years. Although incident ischemic stroke showed no association with total arsenic or total inorganic arsenic, for each unit higher level of urinary monomethylarsonic acid on a log-scale, after adjustment for potential confounders, ischemic stroke risk increased ≈2-fold (hazard ratio=1.98; 95% confidence interval: 1.12–3.50). Effect modification by age, race, sex, or geographic region was not evident.Conclusions—A metabolite of arsenic was positively associated with incident ischemic stroke in this case–cohort study of the US general population, a low-to-moderate exposure area. Overall, these findings suggest a potential role for arsenic methylation in the pathogenesis of stroke, having important implications for future cerebrovascular research.

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