Colon Cancer Mortality and Total Hardness Levels in Taiwan's Drinking Water
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The possible association between the risk of colon cancer and hardness levels in drinking water from municipal supplies was investigated in a matched case-control study in Taiwan. All eligible colon cancer deaths (1,714 cases) of Taiwan residents from 1989 through 1993 were compared with deaths from other causes (1,714 controls) and the hardness levels of the drinking water used by these residents were determined. Data on water hardness throughout Taiwan have been collected from Taiwan Water Supply Corporation (TWSC). The control group consisted of people who died from other causes and the controls were pair matched to the cases by sex, year of birth, and year of death. The results show a significant negative relationship between drinking water hardness and colon cancer mortality. Odds ratio and 95% confidence intervals were 1.22 (1.04–1.43) and 1.46 (1.22–1.75), respectively, for exposure to moderately hard water and soft water compared with the use of hard water. Trend analyses showed an increasing odds ratio for colon cancer with decreasing levels of hardness in drinking water. This is an important finding for the Taiwan water industry and human health.
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