Chlorine is a chemical that has been used for over a century to “purify” drinking water. While it is true that chlorine added to drinking water acts to protect against several types of harmful bacteria, such as Shigella, Salmonella and Vibrio cholera, it’s also well-documented that chlorine can form cancer-causing compounds in water. Despite that fact, the use of chlorine to disinfect drinking water is a standard practice throughout the United States. Additionally, the amount of chlorine that is used for this purpose is particularly high during the summer, since warm weather conditions favor bacterial overgrowth. For this reason, chlorination is heaviest in the southern parts of the country.
While there is little doubt that chlorine once played a crucial role in eradicating water-borne infectious diseases such as cholera and typhoid, a growing body of scientific evidence indicates that drinking chlorinated water on a regular basis increases the risk of cancer. In one study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology in 1992, for example, it was shown that drinking chlorinated water increased the incidence of both colon and rectal cancer by 20 to 40%.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has for decades downplayed the increased cancer risk associated with drinking chlorinated water by asserting the risk of water-borne disease in humans that can occur if water is not affected. According to the EPA, the cancer risks associated with chlorine are theoretical and far less than the health risks of water-borne diseases. That may have been true when chlorine first started to be added to our nation’s drinking water supplies at the turn of the 20th century, but it’s no longer the case today, when the likelihood that either you or loved ones will develop cancer is now close to 50%!
Consider these facts, which were documented by researchers at both Harvard University and the Medical College of Wisconsin in the early 1990s:
- Drinking chlorinated water accounts for 15% of all cases of rectal cancer in the U.S., and 9% of all bladder cancers.
- Furthermore, the percentage of bladder cancers caused by drinking chlorinated water increases to 21% if chlorinated water is consumed for longer periods of time.
- Similarly, the percentage of rectal cancers caused by drinking chlorinated water increases to 38% if chlorinated water is consumed over the same longer time period.
Chlorinated drinking water increases the risk of developing cancer because of toxic and carcinogenic compounds that are formed when chlorine reacts with organic matter in water. These compounds are known as trihalomethanes. Of particular concern are two of these compounds—chloroform and trichloroethylene. Once used as an anesthetic, chloroform was banned by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1976 because of its cancer-causing properties, while trichloroethylene has long been known for its toxic properties.
Scientists at the EPA’s Health Effects Research Laboratory have also identified two other cancer-causing compounds that form in drinking water to which chlorine is added. Both of these compounds are formed when chlorine interacts with humus, an organic material formed from the decay of plants within and along the water tables from which tap water is supplied. One of these compounds, known as MX, has shown up in every chlorinated water source ever tested for it. The EPA’s own researchers have reported that MX may be the single largest contributor of mutagenicity in municipal water supplies. (Mutagenicity refers to the ability of a compound to trigger genetic mutations, a measure of the compound’s cancer-causing potential.)
The other compound identified by EPA scientists is called DCA. DCA has been shown to alter cholesterol metabolism and cause liver cancer in animals. It too is formed when chlorine is added to drinking water and interacts with waters innate organic compounds.
Based on the EPA’s own research, many scientists today believe that MX and DCA are among the most dangerous chemicals found in the U.S. drinking water supply, yet the EPA itself still continues to insist that chlorine poses little risk for cancer!
As with other carcinogens found in tap water, the dangers posed by chlorine are even greater from bathing and showering than they are from drinking. That’s because the amount of the carcinogenic compounds in chlorinated water that is absorbed by the skin is up to 600% higher than that absorbed from drinking chlorinated water. To reduce your risk, using your bathroom fan while showering or bathing or keep your bathroom window open, and install a high quality water filter in your bathroom’s shower head.
Flouride is a poison that is surpassed only by arsenic for its toxicity, yet it has routinely been added to public drinking water and toothpaste in the U.S. since the 1950s, and today the EPA and other health agencies continue to insist that it is safe despite evidence of the multiple health risks it poses, including increasing the risk of cancer.
The practice of fluoridation took hold in the U.S. because of the efforts of an aluminum industry lawyer when he was appointed head of the U.S. Public Health Service. Fluoridation was touted then, as it continues to be now, as a way to improve the public’s dental health. But the real reason fluoride was suggested as an additive in our water supply was because fluoridation was a lucrative way for the aluminum industry to get rid of sodium fluoride, the industry’s primary toxic waste by-product.
As early as 1953, scientists proved that fluoridated water does not reduce cavities in children, yet preventing cavities continues to be the rationale used for adding fluoride to water and toothpaste.
Scientific research has shown that fluoride consumption both produces cancer by itself and can increase the cancer-causing potential of other chemicals. Fluoride produces cancer by transforming normal healthy cells into cancerous ones, even at concentrations of only 1 part per million (ppm)!
Among the scientific findings about fluoride and cancer are:
- Research demonstrating that fluoridated water accounts for a 600% greater incidence of bone cancer in males under age 20, compared to non-fluoridated water.
- Low levels of fluoride can increase the incidence of skin cancer from 12% to 100%, sometimes in only a matter of days!
- Studies with mice has shown that as little as 1 ppm of fluoride in water can increase tumor growth by 25%.
- A studying compiling 14 years of data by the National Cancer Institute showed that the incidence of oral and pharyngeal (throat) cancer increased by as much as 50% and accounts for an average of 8,000 new cases of these types of cancer in the U.S. each year.
One of the most outspoken opponents of fluoridation of water was by friend the late John Yiamouyiannis, Ph.D. In his classic study, Dr. Yiamouyiannis compared the cancer death rates in 10 cities with fluoridated water with 10 cities with non-fluoridated water over a 30-year period. He found that after 17 years, the cancer rates in cities with fluoridation increased by 10%, while the rates in the cities that did not fluoridate their drinking water remained constant.
Another pioneering voice against the use of fluoridation was the late Dean Burk, Ph.D., who served as Chief Chemist Emeritus of the National Cancer Institute. Based on his research, Dr. Burk estimated that fluoride was responsible for more cases of cancer than any other chemical. Dr. Burk compared the cancer death rates of the largest fluoridated and non-fluoridated cities in the United States. Prior to 1953, he found that cancer death rates were similar in all of the cities, but after the use of fluoride in drinking water began, cancer death rates increased markedly among the fluoridated cities.
In addition, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) has found that fluorine, a compound of fluoride, impairs vitally important DNA repair activity that is regulated by enzymes that normally correct for possible flaws or genetic mutations. Research has shown that fluoride levels as low as 1 ppm can cause serious damage to cell chromosomes that are sufficient enough to cause healthy normal cells to transform into cancer cells.
Despite such findings as these, the United States shows no signs of ending the process of fluoridation. Such is not the case in Europe, where 14 countries have outlawed the use of fluoride in drinking water, as have Egypt and India, because they regard fluoride as being too toxic for public health. Yet both the EPA and the American Dental Association (ADA) continue to claim fluoride is safe up to 4 ppm. That’s four times the level for which scientific studies proves it to be carcinogenic!
The American Dental Association (ADA) also advocates the use of fluoride for dental health. In fact, the ADA will not endorse any dental product unless it contains fluoride. In addition to toothpaste, this includes gels, tablets, and mouthwash products.
What You Can Do To Protect Yourself
The same preventive measures that I recommended last time can also help minimize your exposure to chlorine and fluoride. They are:
Don’t drink water straight out of the tap. Instead, invest in a high-quality reverse osmosis water filtration system. Reverse osmosis is the most effective way to filter out the harmful toxins that tap water can contain. Although such units may seem expensive, their cost pales in comparison to the harm that is caused by continuously drinking unfiltered tap water.
In addition, reverse osmosis systems are both a healthier and more cost-effective solution than drinking bottled water. Studies have shown that many brands of bottled water are no healthier than tap water, and in many cases are actually less healthy. In addition, the plastic bottles now pose a serious threat to our environment. Over the long run, you’ll also pay far less for a reverse osmosis system and replacement filters compared to the accumulative cost of buying bottled water.
If you are on the go a lot and like to have pure filtered water available to you away from home, invest in a non-disposable, eco-friendly water bottle so that you can take your pure, filtered water from your home with you.
Invest in a shower filter. As I mentioned above, showering and bathing in unfiltered tap water accounts for 70% of all the water-borne toxins you and your loved ones are exposed to. To prevent this, you need to install a quality shower filter inside of your shower head. This is easy to do and can go a long way towards minimizing your exposure to water-borne toxins.
Help your body detoxify itself. Exposure to environmental toxins is sadly unavoidable these days. All of us are constantly exposed to toxins each and every day, which is one of the reasons cancer is far more prevalent in the 21st century than it was at the dawn of the 20th.Environmental toxicity is far more prevalent and dangerous today than at any other time in
history. Therefore, it’s important that you do all you can to help your body cope with its task of detoxification. To do so, I recommend you eat only organically produced foods whenever possible. Ideally, your diet should be primarily plant-based and rich in whole foods that contain lots of fiber, which helps your body to eliminate toxins.
I also recommend that you supplement your diet with antioxidant and detoxifying nutrients. These include beta carotene and other carotenoids, vitamins B3 (niacin) and B6 in conjunction with other B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin E (in its natural, not synthetic, form), garlic, magnesium, zinc, and liver-cleansing herbs such as milk thistle (your liver is your body’s main internal organ of detoxification). In addition, be sure to drink adequate amounts of pure, filtered water each day, along with detoxifying beverages such as organic black or green tea, both of which have anticancer properties.
In addition, don’t use toothpaste and other dental products that contain fluoride. You can find non-fluoridated alternatives to such products at your local health food store.