Myth: Freezing Plastic Water Bottles Causes Cancer

The Facts from the US FDA and American Cancer Society

plastic water bottle
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Don't be alarmed by the email hoax and false claim that freezing water in plastic bottles may increase your risk of cancer. This is a myth and is scientifically untrue. Let's take a peek at how this myth came into play and how it's debunked.

How the Myth Linking Frozen Water in Plastic with Cancer was Created

In the early 2000s, different versions of emails circulated around the United States stating that freezing water in plastic bottles caused the release of toxins, like dioxin.

Dioxin is a manmade chemical compound and has been linked to a variety of health conditions, including cancer.

The email was based on information originally provided by Dr. Edward Fujimoto on a television show in Honolulu in 2002. Years later in 2007, an email with lots of false claims, including this myth about dioxin, was circulated. The email gave credit to Johns Hopkins Hospital — which officials of John Hopkins state they did not publish and consider the content of the email to be invalid. 

The Myth is Debunked

The United States Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, states that the substances used to make plastics, like plastics bottles, can leach into foods. This is why the FDA regulates the substances used to make plastic products as indirect food additives — meaning these substances are not intended to be added to food but may come into contact with food as part of the packaging process.

That being said, the FDA stated that the levels of these plastic substances or materials that may leach into foods are well within the margin of safety. Furthermore, the FDA states that there is no evidence that plastic bottles or containers contain the toxin dioxin. 

To back up this latter point, the American Chemistry Council states that dioxins are only created at very high temperatures, well over 700 degrees Fahrenheit.

So there is no scientific reason for dioxins to be present in any plastic bottles or drink containers. 

What Does this Mean for Me?

The bottom line is that there is no scientific evidence to support the fact that you are at an increased risk of developing cancer if you drink water from a frozen water bottle.

In the future, if you read something from an email or see something on television that sounds suspicious or that is concerning to you, please double check the facts with your personal doctor. Unfortunately erroneous information sometimes intentionally or unintentionally spreads rapidly and causes unnecessary anxiety. 


American Cancer Society. How can we help you?: Microwaving Plastics. Retrieved December 22nd, 2015.

American Chemistry Council. FAQs: The Safety of Plastic Beverage Bottles

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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