Reduce colorectal and bladder cancer by avoiding this toxic chemical

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chlorine-in-water(NaturalHealth365)  Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in men and women each year in the United States.  Meanwhile, approximately 2.3 percent of men and women will be diagnosed with bladder cancer at some point during their lifetime.  Unfortunately, the cause remains a mystery for too many people – even though we know about so many triggers to avoid.

Nearly two decades ago, an American Journal of Public Health study, publicized (and downplayed) by The New York Times, shed light on a concerning revelation: an increased risk of certain cancers associated with an everyday household liquid – tap water treated with chlorine.

Researchers cautioned that chlorine, a commonly used disinfectant in water treatment plants, combines with organic material in water to create dangerous compounds known as trihalomethanes (THMs).  With over 98 percent of all U.S. water supply systems now chlorinated, this presents an undeniable threat.

To learn how to minimize the danger of this toxic chemical flowing from your faucets, keep reading.

Researchers examine the detrimental impact of chlorine on colorectal risk

In the study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, researchers explored the potential connection between long-term exposure to THMs, the primary disinfection by-products found in chlorinated drinking water, and the development of colorectal cancer.  This study involved 58,672 individuals from two population-based cohorts.

Researchers assessed exposure levels by combining data on long-term residential history with records of drinking water quality monitoring.  Participants were categorized based on their exposure levels: no exposure, low exposure (<15 µg/L), and high exposure (≥15 µg/L).  The incidence of colorectal cancer cases was tracked using the Swedish National Cancer Register.

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Studies confirm: Chlorinated water will INCREASE your risk of colorectal and bladder cancer

Over 16.8 years, researchers studied 988,144 people and found 1,913 cases of colorectal cancer, with 1,176 in men and 746 in women. Higher THM levels (≥15 µg/L) in drinking water raised the risk of colorectal cancer in men.  Proximal colon cancer had a strong link, but no significant links were found for distal colon cancer or rectal cancer.  There was no clear connection between THMs and colorectal cancer in women.

In another study conducted by researchers at Harvard University and the Medical College of Wisconsin and published in the American Journal of Public Health, the team pooled data from ten different studies to create a meta-review – a relatively new approach at the time.  This technique allowed them to detect patterns that might otherwise have gone unnoticed.

They found that people drinking chlorinated water had a 21 percent greater risk of getting bladder cancer – and a 38 percent greater risk of getting rectal cancer – when compared to those who drank non-chlorinated water.

The use of chlorine in tap water accounted for 6,500 cases of rectal cancer and 4,200 cases of bladder cancer, the team reported.

Study results suppressed or minimized in the mainstream media

A review co-author said the research was suppressed for a year before publication, with several major journals turning it down because they were “… uneasy about informing people about the problem until some alternative was available.”

A New York Times article about the review described the increased cancer risk as “very slight” – while the title (“Tiny Risk in Chlorinated Water”) seemed chosen to further downplay the review’s findings.

The article also pointed out that stopping chlorination – or lowering standards – in other parts of the world has resulted in cholera outbreaks in the past.

The co-authors themselves commented that the potential health risks of microbial contamination of drinking water greatly exceed the risk of cancer.  But even with its uneven reception, the report’s point had been made.

According to the article, a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) spokesman voiced the hope that the review would spur research about alternative methods of disinfection.  Remember when the EPA actually appeared – somewhat – concerned with protecting human and environmental health?!

Additional research confirmed the increased cancer risk.

A 1997 cohort study of postmenopausal women – also published in the American Journal of Public Health – showed that the group consuming the very highest levels of chlorinated water had a 68 percent greater chance of developing colon cancer than women in the lowest group.

Unfortunately, the risks of chlorinated water aren’t confined to bladder and colorectal cancer alone.

Highly toxic chlorine carries grave risks to health, including miscarriage and atherosclerosis

Chlorine combines with naturally occurring organic matter in water to create new, hazardous compounds known as trihalomethanes (THMs).  The most common THM, chloroform, is classified as a Group B carcinogen.

One study showed that women with greater exposure to chlorinated tap water (containing over 75 ppb of THMs, an amount within legal limits) had a higher rate of miscarriage than women at the lower ends of the spectrum.

Natural health experts warn that the long-term risks of chlorinated water include the oxidization of lipid contaminants and the formation of excess free radicals, which in turn increase vulnerability to cancer-causing genetic mutations.

Chlorinated water contributes to the harmful oxidation of unsaturated essential fatty acids, such as omega-3s. It also destroys antioxidant vitamin E in the body and acidophilus, a type of protective bacteria that helps to nourish the community of beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract.

Studies on both animals and humans show that chlorinated water damages arteries – promoting atherosclerosis and heart attacks.

In a report published in Orthomolecular Medicine, the author cited research from autopsies on American soldiers who died in battle in the Korean War.  The soldiers had been issued chlorine tablets for their canteens, causing their drinking water to be highly chlorinated.

As a result, the soldiers showed “gross evidence of arteriosclerosis (narrowing) in the coronary arteries.”

Warning: Swimming pools and hot tubs also cause exposure to chloroform

Unfortunately, the danger does not exist only in drinking water.  Chlorine in swimming pools and hot tubs can react with organic compounds, including – but not limited to – sweat, urine, blood, feces, mucus, and skin cells.

The resultant chloroform can be absorbed through the skin – and even by inhalation in the course of taking a hot shower.

Not surprisingly, Canadian researchers have found that an hour of swimming in a chlorinated pool increases the concentration of chloroform in the blood.

Drinking chlorinated water (as well as swimming in it) can cause melanoma, a form of skin cancer.

Other adverse effects include increased concentration of chloroform in the lungs, irritation of the eyes, skin, and throat, and headaches.

Minimize exposure to chlorine and chloroform with common-sense practices

Clearly, a good water filter – installed on faucets and shower heads – can be your greatest ally when it comes to minimizing exposure to dangerous chlorine.  In addition, it’s wise to avoid the use of chlorinated tap water in humidifiers.

Bathroom windows should be left open when showering or bathing.

Experts also recommend limiting – or eliminating – the time spent in chlorine-laden pools and hot tubs and reducing chlorine levels if you own a pool.

Finally, vitamin C helps eliminate the threat of chlorine.  In fact, one gram of vitamin C is capable of neutralizing the chlorine in 100 gallons of water at a chlorine level of 1 part per million (the standard for US drinking water).

Note: adding vitamin C to unsafe water will not make it drinkable, however, as other contaminants could be present.

The point is that chlorine and vitamin C are “natural enemies” – yet another reason to promote immune defense with a healthy, daily amount of antioxidant-rich vitamin C.

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