Debunking the Cancer Misconception that Cold Water Causes Cancer

Why It's Not Scientifically Based

woman drinking ice water
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One cancer misconception spread through email is that cold water can increase a person's risk of developing cancer. Let's take a closer look at why this claim is not scientifically supported, and what it means for you. 

Exploring the Link (or Lack Thereof) Between Cold Water and Cancer

Certain websites or emails claiming that drinking cold water may cause cancer state that the mechanism has to do with cold water solidifying oily foods that we eat.

These sources state that solidified oily food reacts with stomach acid, turns into sludge, and is absorbed faster into the intestines than solid foods.

People who support this claim then state that the solidified oily foods turn into fats which line the intestines, buildup, and lead to cancer. 

Debunking the Misconception that Links Cold Water to Cancer

Let's explore three reasons why this cancer misconception is not scientifically based. First, when you drink cold or warm beverages, they don't remain hot or cold for long. The liquid quickly becomes the same temperature as your body temperature. So drinking something cold doesn't stay cool in the stomach. 

Secondly, you have to account for the highly acidic environment of stomach. Stomach acid breaks down mostly everything into a thick liquid consistency before it travels to the small intestine. So no solid food is really surviving stomach acid -- with the exception of foods that contain cellulose, like corn and lettuce.

 

Thirdly, the fact that "solidified oily foods turn into fats" makes no sense, as oils are already fats. 

Separating Cancer Fact from Fiction 

Everyday it seems like a new article says something causes cancer, making it difficult to separate fact from fiction. That being said, it's important to not take what a person, email, blog, or website says for granted.

Misconceptions, rumors, and myths can be rapidly spread, creating unnecessary worry among people. Instead, be sure to confirm the findings with your doctor -- if it sounds out there, it likely is, and without scientific evidence to back it up, it's simply a misconception. 

What Does This Mean for Me?

Be confident that a cool glass of water after dinner isn't going to increase your risk of developing cancer. Instead of worrying about this myth, focus your attention on adopting healthy lifestyle habits that will help reduce your risk of cancer like: 

  • not smoking and avoiding second hand smoke
  • not consuming excessive amounts of alcohol
  • practicing sun safety
  • eating a well-balanced diet
  • exercising regularly
  • seeing your doctor for preventive cancer screening tests

Sources:

American Cancer Society. 6 Steps to Help Lower Your Cancer Risk. Retrieved December 22nd 2015. 

Argonne National Laboratory. Office of DOE Science Education. Cold water and protein digestion.
http://www.newton.dep.anl.gov/askasci/gen06/gen06185.htm. 

DISCLAIMER: The information in this site is for educational purposes only. It should not be used as a substitute for personal care by a licensed physician. Please see your doctor for diagnosis and treatment of any concerning symptoms or medical condition.

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