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Arsenic Exposure through Dietary Intake and Associated Health Hazards in the Middle East
, Khalid Rehman Hakeem,

Dietary arsenic (As) contamination is a major public health issue. In the Middle East, the food supply relies primarily on the import of food commodities. Among different age groups the main source of As exposure is grains and grain-based food products, particularly rice and rice-based dietary products. Rice and rice products are a rich source of core macronutrients and act as a chief energy source across the world. The rate of rice consumption ranges from 250 to 650 g per day per person in South East Asian countries. The source of carbohydrates through rice is one of the leading causes of human As exposure. The Gulf population consumes primarily rice and ready-to-eat cereals as a large proportion of their meals. Exposure to arsenic leads to an increased risk of non-communicable diseases such as dysbiosis, obesity, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, chronic heart disease, cancer, and maternal and fetal complications. The impact of arsenic-containing food items and their exposure on health outcomes are different among different age groups. In the Middle East countries, neurological deficit disorder (NDD) and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) cases are alarming issues. Arsenic exposure might be a causative factor that should be assessed by screening the population and regulatory bodies rechecking the limits of As among all age groups. Our goals for this review are to outline the source and distribution of arsenic in various foods and water and summarize the health complications linked with arsenic toxicity along with identified modifiers that add heterogeneity in biological responses and suggest improvements for multi-disciplinary interventions to minimize the global influence of arsenic. The development and validation of diverse analytical techniques to evaluate the toxic levels of different As contaminants in our food products is the need of the hour. Furthermore, standard parameters and guidelines for As-containing foods should be developed and implemented.

Middle East; arsenic; food and screening; health hazards; water.
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