Chlorine, Cancer, and Drinking Water

Anahad O’Connor of The New York Times explores the claim that chlorinated drinking water increases the risk of cancer. The conclusion? It’s a little murky:
Some studies have found a link to cancer; others have not. The most reliable findings may be those of meta-analyses, large studies that pool results of many smaller ones. Three such meta-analyses, in 1992, 2003 and 2004, linked long-term consumption of chlorinated water to small increases in the rates of bladder cancer, particularly in men. The analyses adjusted for other risk factors, like age, socioeconomic status and smoking. Some studies analyzed were from the 1970’s, before federal standards for chlorine byproducts were tightened.

Several agencies, including the World Health Organization, say the evidence is weak and point out that any risk from chlorine byproducts is tiny compared with risks associated with nonchlorinated water. Many countries that have relaxed chlorination standards have seen outbreaks of cholera and other diseases.
Dr. Fuhrman is leery of chlorine himself, here’s how he deals with it in his swimming pool:
I swim in our chlorinated pool in the summer, but I use a mineral treatment that significantly reduces the amount of chlorine and I use chlorine only periodically when we are not using the pool much for a few days.
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John Gilpin - September 26, 2006 6:25 PM
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