Inorganic arsenic in Chinese food and its cancer risk

Gang Li, Guo-Xin Sun, Paul N. Williams, Luis Nunes, Yong-Guan Zhu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

239 Citations (Scopus)


Even moderate arsenic exposure may lead to health problems, and thus quantifying inorganic arsenic (iAs) exposure from food for different population groups in China is essential. By analyzing the data from the China National Nutrition and Health Survey (CNNHS) and collecting reported values of iAs in major food groups, we developed a framework of calculating average iAs daily intake for different regions of China. Based on this framework, cancer risks from As in food was deterministically and probabilistically quantified. The article presents estimates for health risk due to the ingestion of food products contaminated with arsenic. Both per individual and for total population estimates were obtained. For the total population, daily iAs intake is around 42 mu g day(-1), and rice is the largest contributor of total iAs intake accounting for about 60%. Incremental lifetime cancer risk from food iAs intake is 106 per 100,000 for adult individuals and the median population cancer risk is 177 per 100,000 varying between regions. Population in the Southern region has a higher cancer risk than that in the Northern region and the total population. Sensitive analysis indicated that cancer slope factor, ingestion rates of rice, aquatic products and iAs concentration in rice were the most relevant variables in the model, as indicated by their higher contribution to variance of the incremental lifetime cancer risk. We conclude that rice may be the largest contributor of iAs through food route for the Chinese people. The population from the South has greater cancer risk than that from the North and the whole population. (C) 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1219-1225
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironment International
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2011


  • Arsenic
  • Food
  • RICE
  • Exposure
  • Cancer risk
  • Inorganic

Cite this