A critical exploration of blood and environmental chromium concentration among oral cancer patients in an oral cancer prevalent area of Taiwan

Chi Ting Chiang, Tsun Kuo Chang, Yaw Huei Hwang, Che Chun Su, Kuo Yang Tsai, Tzu Hsuen Yuan, Iebin Lian

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The growing incidence of oral cancer (OC) in Taiwan has become a crucial public health concern. In particular, Changhua, a county in central Taiwan, carries persistently high OC incidence rate, with an alarmingly high male/female ratio of OC incidence. Previous epidemiological studies had found that the incidence is spatially correlated with the level of soil content to certain heavy metals in the central Taiwan area. Soil and the human body both intake environmental heavy metals, which can be absorbed through various ways. The soil metal concentration is an index of possible environmental exposure to heavy metal, and the blood metal concentration somewhat reflects the level of the exposure on the human body. Metallic carcinogen is likely to generate free radicals and play a role in many cancers, and many studies had reported that environmental exposure to heavy metals is an important risk factor for developing cancer. Studies on animals showed that chronic intake of chromium (Cr) could induce OC. This study aims to explore the association between the Cr concentration in the farm soil and in the blood of OC patients. We recruited 79 OC patients from Changhua County, with their lifestyle being adjusted in regression analysis. The results showed that the Cr concentration in the blood of OC patients is significantly higher than the background value, and is positively associated with the Cr concentration in the soil surrounding their residence (p-value < 0.023). Because Changhua County is only with moderate prevalence of the known OC habitual risk factors, an environmental factor related to heavy metal Cr exposure is suspected. Future investigations may verify the causal relation between Cr and OC.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)469-476
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Geochemistry and Health
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2011 Oct 1


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Geochemistry and Petrology

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