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Role of Arsenic in Carcinogenesis

Part of the Molecular and Integrative Toxicology book series (MOLECUL)


Arsenic is one of the most abundant metals in the Earth’s crust. It exists in both organic and inorganic forms. Contamination of drinking water globally by significant environmental exposure of Arsenic is one of the major public health problems. It is found that more than 100 million people are exposed to Arsenic worldwide. Drinking water Arsenic concentration has been reported very high in many countries around the world, leading to Arsenic poisoning in the human population. International Agency of Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified Arsenic as a class I human carcinogen. There are several types of cancers associated with Arsenic toxicity, such as skin, bladder, kidney, prostate, liver and lungs cancer. Among them, skin cancer is the most common neoplasm associated with Arsenic, and lung cancer is the most deadly. Arsenic concentration in high doses has been found out in various places around the world. Though Arsenic-induced cancer is well studied, several mechanisms of the same are unknown. Here, we have investigated the mechanism of carcinogenesis induced by inorganic Arsenic and its role in oxidative stress, apoptosis, Arsenic-induced DNA damage, role in affecting signal transduction pathways, epigenetic modifications due to Arsenic, genotoxicity caused by Arsenic, and also the role of Arsenic affecting Micro RNA. We also discussed in detail in this chapter the molecular mechanism involved in Arsenic-induced cancers such as skin, lungs, liver, prostrate, kidney and bladder. A better understanding of molecular mechanisms of Arsenic induced cancer will help us to develop effective therapeutic approach for Arsenic induced cancer.


  • Arsenic toxicity
  • Cancer
  • Oxidative stress
  • DNA damage
  • Apoptosis

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Correspondence to Dhruv Kumar .

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James, S. et al. (2021). Role of Arsenic in Carcinogenesis. In: Kesari, K.K., Jha, N.K. (eds) Free Radical Biology and Environmental Toxicity. Molecular and Integrative Toxicology. Springer, Cham.

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