Innovation Anthology

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Program ID: Innovation Anthology #136
Program Date: 05/22/2008
Program Category: Health and Medicine, Water

Arsenic Health Benefits

Arsenic is a poison and known carcinogen, but it may also prove beneficial in the treatment of disease.

This novel idea has prompted the Canadian Cancer Society to fund the research of Dr. Chris Le, a professor in Public Health and Laboratory Medicine and Pathology at the University of Alberta.

Arsenic has many industrial uses, such as in the production of pesticides and wood preservatives. It’s used in the mining of gold. It has also been used in certain pharmaceuticals.

According to Dr. Le, arsenic can also be found naturally in ground water. Over his career, he has participated in several research projects investigating the effects of pollutants like arsenic in our water.

Dr. Le’s research for the Canadian Cancer Society will look at the effects on humans exposed to low levels of arsenic over time.

He will also try to determine why arsenic may have certain health benefits. Some arsenic compounds have proven quite successful in the treatment of cancers such as leukemia.

It is suspected that arsenic trisulfides induce cancer cells to undergo apoptosis. Essentially the cells program themselves to stop dividing.

FOR INNOVATION ANTHOLOGY, I'M CHERYL CROUCHER

Sponsors

  • Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research
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