Looking at the results from a simple search on the internet, it’s clear that there are as many bogus theories as there are susceptible people out there. The claims that drinking water cause cancer are too many to mention but, upon further research, it’s clear that a better angle would have been to ask whether the chemicals in said water cause cancer.
Popular beliefs like leaving plastic bottles in the sun, which causes carcinogenic chemicals called dioxins to leach into the liquid still remains to be proven. Another unproven hoax that went around claims that drinking cold water after meals can cause cancer. Instead of putting everyone off of H2O, let’s rather look at the (removable) carcinogenic elements that can be found in tap water.
This chemical is found in the linings of canned food, some plastics and heat-sensitive paper slips. Researchers found that high concentrations of BPA can be harmful in mice, but humans metabolise chemicals very differently. Currently there is no conclusive evidence that the limited everyday exposure can cause any harm.
If you’re still concerned about it, look under your products for the triangular recycling mark. If there’s a 1, 2, 4 or 5 in the triangle, the product packaging is BPA free. A 3 or 7 means it may contain BPA.
Fluoride has been added to drinking water in some areas since the late 1940’s. However, only two areas in the UK have fluoridated water: the Birmingham area and the eastern parts of the country. The initial intent with adding fluoride to drinking water was to reduce cavities and improve dental health in general. But nowadays we have more access to foods and supplements that provide the nutrients we need, as well as fluoridated toothpaste to strengthen our teeth.
To add to the confusion, when it comes to adding fluoride to our water supplies, a recent article in The Lancet medical journal stated that fluoride is now categorised as a neurotoxin. More research is being planned to assess the risk and determine if there’s a link between this compound and neurological development.
There has been a lot of research on this subject, but there’s not enough conclusive evidence to say there are harmful side effects, like cancer, or that there’s no risk whatsoever. It’s important to note that sodium fluoride is the bad guy when it it’s excessively used in water, and not calcium fluoride.
Chlorine is used to disinfect drinking and swimming pool water. When used for this purpose, it breaks down into chemicals called trihalomethanes (THMs). There were claims that high levels of THMs can increase the risk of bladder cancer, but the research is still inconclusive.
According to Cancer Research UK, chlorinating water may marginally increase the risk of certain cancers. However, they also state that the benefits (the elimination of infectious diseases) far outweigh the arguable dangers.