What they found was that a diet high in the fatty acids in fish oils was positively linked with arsenic concentration in toenails. So were rice and alcohol. On the other hand, vegetable and animal fats were not. So dietary fat may play a role in clearing the arsenic from our bodies.
The caveat is that diets were self-reported. Our memories can be fuzzy when it comes to details of what we eat. So the project lead, Prof. Kathy Cottingham, cautions:
While there may be a direct interaction between fats and arsenic preventing absorption or binding to keratin in nails, the results may simply reflect dietary preference, with people who eat a diet rich in fats not eating foods high in arsenic, such as rice.
Prof. Cottingham and her colleagues are carrying out similar studies with children. Their results will give us more insight into the interaction between what we eat and how much arsenic remains in our bodies.
In the meantime, the study is one more confirmation that reasonable amounts of healthy fats play a role in our health. They might even protect us from arsenic poisoning.
Citation: Associations between toenail arsenic concentration and dietary factors in a New Hampshire population Joann F Gruber, Margaret R Karagas, Diane Gilbert-Diamond, Pamela J Bagley, M Scot Zens, Vicki Sayarath, Tracy Punshon, J Steven Morris and Kathryn L Cottingham; Nutrition Journal 2012, 11:45 doi:10.1186/1475-2891-11-45
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