Drink Considered ‘Important to Your Health’ May Raise Prostate Cancer Risk, Study Warns

Research is increasingly showing that cancer risk can be changed. While the obvious culprits that could pave the way to a deadly condition are smoking and alcohol, a new study unexpectedly suggests that water may also be to blame. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that “getting enough water every day is important for your health.” But a study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives found that nitrate intake during a person’s adult life through consumption of tap and bottled water may be a risk factor for prostate cancer. Fortunately, a healthy diet can help.

The aim of the study, carried out by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), was to evaluate whether there is an association between the intake of water-soluble nitrates and trihalomethanes (THMs) and the risk of prostate cancer.

Nitrates and THMs are the two most common drinking water contaminants.

Nitrates often come from agricultural fertilizers and manure from intensive animal husbandry that is washed into aquifers and rivers by rain.

In addition, THMs are by-products of water disinfection, chemical compounds formed after drinking water is disinfected, usually with chlorine.

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While the only route of entry for nitrates is ingestion, THM can also be inhaled and absorbed through the skin while showering, swimming in the pool, or washing dishes.

Long-term exposure to THM has previously been associated with an increased risk of bladder cancer, but evidence for this remains very limited.

This study assessed a possible link by examining 697 men with prostate cancer in Spanish hospitals between 2008 and 2013, including 97 aggressive tumors.

The study group also included a control group of 927 men aged 38 to 85 who had not been diagnosed with cancer at the time of the study.

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The researchers estimated the average exposure to these chemicals based on where the participants lived and the type of water they drank throughout their lives.

Unfortunately, the results showed that the higher the nitrate intake, the greater the association with prostate cancer.

Participants with higher waterborne nitrate intake, which averaged over 14 mg per day over a lifetime, were 1.6 times more likely to develop low-grade or moderate prostate cancer and almost 1.6 times more likely to develop an aggressive prostate tumor. three times higher. .

Carolina Donat-Vargas, lead author of the study, said: “Risks associated with water intake of nitrates are already being observed in people who consume water with nitrate levels below the maximum level allowed by European directives, which is 50 mg of nitrates per liter. water.”

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While these results highlight a correlation between water and prostate cancer, they do not prove a cause.

“Exposure to nitrates through drinking water does not mean you will develop prostate cancer,” Donat-Vargas said.

In addition, the authors of the study noted that this study simply provides the first evidence of an association that will need to be confirmed in further studies.

The good news is that scientists have found that eating plenty of fiber, fruits, vegetables, and vitamin C can reduce the negative effects of nitrates in drinking water.

During the study, participants also had to complete a meal frequency questionnaire, which provided individual nutritional information.

The study found that the association between nitrate intake and prostate cancer was only seen in men with lower intakes of fiber, fruits, vegetables, and vitamin C.

Donat-Vargas said: “Antioxidants, vitamins and polyphenols in fruits and vegetables can inhibit the formation of nitrosamines – compounds with carcinogenic potential – in the stomach.

“Moreover, vitamin C has shown significant antitumor activity. And fiber, for its part, benefits gut bacteria that protect against food toxicants, including nitrosamines.”

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