On the link between cancer & water chlorination
“Cancer-fighting nutrients become deadly when combined with chlorinated tap water”
Introduction by Healing Cancer Naturally © 2008 Copyright Notice
The two articles below discussing an observed link between water chlorination and cancer are included here to point you to an arguably important factor to consider and eliminate as best as one is able to when establishing a personal healing plan: chlorine, a chemical particularly encountered in the form of chlorinated tap water (in the US and probably some other countries).
From the data presented it would seem advisable to use chlorine filters (including in your shower) wherever feasible. Regarding drinking water, however, Dr. Batmanghelidj, author of Your Body's Many Cries For Water, simply advises to fill an open-top jug with water and let it stand in the fridge or on the countertop - the dissolved chlorine evaporates and the smell disappears.
To conclude with a privately reported interesting observation: “Chlorine is responsible for major acidity and gets stored in the body. I do ionic footbaths and know this from several swimmers whose water smells like chlorine when they're done. “
The following information on the link between water chlorination and cancer incidence is translated from a German source discussing the deleterious effects of various spring water contaminants including chlorination on the quality of natural spring water, human health and aquatic wildlife (translation copyright by Healing Cancer Naturally © 2008):
"Surface water is being chlorinated to kill germs that might pollute it. Chlorine reacts with organic substances, causing formation of chlororganic substances (e.g. chloroform, chlorphenols, dioxins). Chloroform has long been known to be a potential cancer causative agent in animal experimentation.
Extensive epidemiological studies on human populations were able to confirm the existence of a similar causative link in humans. A study done in Iowa, USA, involving 28,000 women showed a clear correlation between cancer incidence and water chlorination. Depending on the specific concentration of chlororganic compounds in their tap water, women drinking chlorinated tap water had 6 - 68% higher colon cancer rates and a 4 - 25% higher incidence of all cancers combined than women whose drinking water was unchlorinated. While US chlorine concentrations in tap water are typically higher than those used in Germany [in public water wells and swimming pools], there are no minimum concentrations required to trigger a carcinogen's cancer-causing potential (i.e. any amount "will do", or may do). Hence for preventative reasons, it is recommended to avoid drinking water from public wells in Germany which could contain even minimal traces of chloroform.
As early as 1992, a compilation of epidemiological studies on humans published until that year had shown significant increases in colon and bladder cancer rates in people living in areas with chlorinated tap water versus control groups without chlorinated drinking water [Morris RD , Audet AM , Angelillo IF, Chalmers TC , Mosteller F: Chlorination, chlorination by-products, and cancer: a meta-analysis, American Journal of Public Health, 82(7): 955-63, 1992].”
Addendum: US Municipal Environmental Research Laboratory director Francis T. Mayo is quoted as stating the following about chlorine: "Scientific studies have linked chlorine and chlorination by-products to cancer of the bladder, liver, rectum, and colon, as well as heart disease, atherosclerosis, anemia, high blood pressure, and allergic reactions."
The following article, likely authored by Barrie Carlsen, can be found in different versions on the internet. It may show one of the major reasons why chlorination of tap water increases cancer incidence or risk*.
“Some of nature's most valuable and essential anti-cancer and anti-disease phytochemical nutrients which are commonly found in food have been discovered to form deadly cancer causing substances when consumed or combined with chlorinated tap water. This discovery includes familiar foods including soy, fruits, vegetables, tea, many health products, and even some vitamins. Research has proven that these essential nutrients are the exact same families of compounds, that even in infinitesimal amounts have been tormenting the water treatment and chlorine industries for years.
Recently, a joint study was undertaken in Japan by research scientists at the National Institute of Health Sciences and Shizuoka Prefectural University. They determined that natural organic substances originating from foods, including fruits, soy, and green or black tea, react when tap water is chlorinated, forming dangerous cancer causing compounds. These deadly compounds have been named MX, which stands for "unknown mutagen", and are similar to the already well-known and more easily detected cancer causing THMs (trihalomethanes).
The Japanese scientists specifically mentioned that their studies showed that MX is created by the reaction of chlorine with natural organic plant phytochemicals such as catechins, which are contained in tea, and flavonoids which are found in fruit. Since Japan has an extremely high consumption of tea, fruits, and soy products, it is easy to see how high amounts of residues from these foods would end up in their wastewater treatment and water recycling systems.
Earlier studies by scientists in Finland in 1997 determined that MX is 170 times more deadly than other known toxic byproducts of chlorination, and was shown in laboratory studies to damage the thyroid gland as well as cause cancerous tumors.
THMs are known to be created by the reaction of chlorine with humic and fulvic acids, which are the final breakdown products of vegetation, including decayed leaves and organic matter. Humic substances are the same as soil humus, of which the fulvic fraction is water soluble and readily transported into streams and waterways, as well as utilized nutritionally by plants.
Very recent scientific discoveries have identified and clarified the composition of fulvic and humic acids as containing a significant amount of nutritional phytochemical groups including hormones, sterols, fatty acids, polyphenols, and ketones, which subgroups include but are not limited to flavins, flavonoids, flavones, tannins, catechins, quinones, isoflavones, tocopherols, etc.
These compounds are some of the most valuable and promising anti-cancer nutrients found in our foods and health supplements. Coenzyme Q10 is a quinone, vitamin B-2 is a flavin, vitamin E is a tocopherol, citrus bioflavonoids including hesperidin, quercetin, and rutin are all flavonoids, green tea contains catechins, phenols, tannins, and isoflavones. Potentially all of these substances, and many more, are implicated by chlorination.
Amazingly, is has been discovered that these phytochemicals remain intact, concentrated, and intricately combined within humic substances; which are valuable remnants of nature's protective substances contained within fruits, flowers, pollen, nuts and seeds, as well as vegetative parts including roots, stems, bark, and leaves. Even the plant nucleic acids, RNA and DNA remain intact.
To comply with EPA rulings, water treatment plants have had to develop special techniques to scrub the seemingly dubious organic residues from water prior to treatment with chlorine. There is nothing wrong with the organic substances themselves, it is chlorine that is at fault for turning them into the deadly THM and MX cancer cocktail. Reality is that the organic substances have been shown to be highly beneficial combined with pure drinking water in trace amounts.
The bottom line is this when water treatment facilities remove these substances, they are throwing the precious baby out with the bath water, and the remnants that remain are turned into cancer causing agents by chlorination. To make things worse, it is certain that the fresh plant foods we eat similarly react with the chlorinated tap water we drink with our meals, creating toxins. This means that fresh fruits and vegetables, green salads, green tea, black tea, herb teas, soy products, vitamin pills and various health supplements, and even some pharmaceutical drugs, all can be implicated in combination with chlorinated water.
The deadly cancer causing agents which are produced are extremely toxic in infinitesimal amounts, so small and obscure that they are extremely difficult to detect. Very little chlorine is required. When the concentrations of phytochemicals are high, such as in concentrated health supplements, or even fruits and vegetables coming from more fertile soils, the deadly combination with chlorination intensifies.
It has been known by the water treatment and chemical industries for many years that chlorine reacts negatively with natural organic compounds. These industries call these compounds DBPs (disinfection by-products) which are known to cause cancer in populations whose drinking water contains them. THM, the most commonly known DBP, is known to cause a high incidence of bladder cancer and also to cause spontaneous abortion of fetuses.
The Environmental Protection Agency has continually tightened their restrictions on THMs in drinking water, and even tighter restrictions are just around the bend. Yet it is interesting to note that the many government agencies and chlorine industries have conveniently neglected to take a serious look at food, health supplement, and pharmaceutical drug consumption, preparation, and production relating to use of chlorinated tap water.
There is good reason for the public to seriously examine and question this entire issue. Many years ago laws were passed making chlorination of water mandatory. Now, the chlorine industry and government agencies must continue their existing policies, because if sudden or drastic changes are made, the legal liabilities would be staggering. Certainly some government or industry personnel have known or theorized about these problems and have been covering them up for many years. However, if anyone were to admit to it, the consequences could be disastrous. This predicament could make the tobacco industry scandal seem insignificant in comparison.
Another area needing thorough scrutiny relates to pharmaceutical drug safety studies normally performed on animals in the laboratory. It would be reasonable to surmise that good laboratory practices and procedures would require that such studies be performed using highly purified drinking water for animals. It would be reasonable to believe that drug companies would not take the chance of jeopardizing clinical studies using chlorinated tap water. Of course chlorinated tap water is a common denominator within the human environment. Educating people to the dangers of chlorine would be admitting to knowledge of the problem, which could invalidate past studies and certainly raise serious legal problems.
This whole chlorine issue should come as no real surprise to any biochemist. During the last century, chlorine has been combined with many other normally safe organic substances to form some of the most powerful deadly toxins known, such as dioxin, DDT, PCBs, etc. The bottom line is that the real culprit is chlorine, not the substances with which it reacts.
Although chlorine has essentially eliminated the risks of waterborne diseases such as typhoid fever, cholera and dysentery, there are many pathogens that are not controlled by chlorine. Other and better methods of water treatment exist. Many alternatives are already used throughout the world. Ever tightening EPA regulations have forced the water supply industry in the USA to look into alternative methods for disinfecting water.
For years, environmentalists have battled the water treatment industry and large chemical companies in an effort to ban the use of chlorine in drinking water. This ongoing battle has been a big source of revenue for both [of these industries]. As word of the problem spreads to the general public, something might actually be done about it.
As this message spreads, it will no doubt shake the very foundations of the chlorine and water treatment industries, let alone the government agencies that are implicated along with them. There certainly should be cause for serious alarm within the nutritional supplement and food industries, as well as those segments of the medical industry that might awaken to the dilemma.
This message is of utmost importance to the general public, because chlorine will one day, in the near future, be exposed as a major cause and contributor to cancer and degenerative disease. Chlorine will also be found to be responsible for damaging the body's immune and hormonal systems by mutating the food-based plant estrogens and phytochemicals that support those systems. A healthy immune system should be your first and best line of defense against waterborne disease.
Recer, P; Water chlorine byproduct may be cancer risk; June 18, 1997; Associated Press
Christman, RF; Kronberg, K; Singh, R; Ball, LM; Johnson, DJ; Report 259 Identification of Mutagenic By-products from Aquatic Humic Chlorination; North Carolina State University
Rhomberg, L Ph.D.; Risk In Perspective Are Chemicals In the Environment Disrupting Hormonal Control Of Growth and Development? April 1, 1996; Harvard Center for Risk Analysis
Japanese data related to MX and the Shizuoka Prefectural University has been extracted from various abstracts published by the American Water Works Association (AWWA), and the National Institute of Health (NIH).
Plant phytochemicals and nutrient groups can be determined from information within the Organic Chemical Tables; Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS), a division of the American Chemical Society.”
* Since Healing Cancer Naturally tries to avoid fear-mongering and the term “cancer risk” is likely to strike fear in the heart of most readers living with chlorinated tap water, please refer to Creating and handling fear when dealing with cancer: On mind power & avoiding negative versus nurturing positive influences.
- Water filters: How can we get pure, clean water?
- Note on economic background of chlorine use in swimming pools
- Fluoridation can cause cancer