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Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention$
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Michael Thun, Martha S. Linet, James R. Cerhan, Christopher A. Haiman, and David Schottenfeld

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190238667

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190238667.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 19 October 2021

Water Contaminants

Water Contaminants

(p.305) 18 Water Contaminants
Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention

Kenneth P. Cantor

Craig M. Steinmaus

Mary H. Ward

Laura E. Beane Freeman

Oxford University Press

Humans have long recognized the hazards of microbial contamination of drinking water. Only since the 1960s, however, have epidemiologic studies systematically examined whether naturally occurring and/or manmade pollutants in drinking water affect cancer risk. Ironically, some of the measures taken to reduce microbial hazards have increased exposure to other contaminants. This chapter begins by discussing three waterborne exposures that affect large numbers of people and have been studied most extensively: inorganic arsenic, disinfection byproducts, and nitrate. Of these, only arsenic and its compounds are currently designated as carcinogenic to humans. It then discusses the evidence concerning two emerging issues: the carcinogenicity of toxins from cyanobacteria, an ancient and ubiquitous family of prokaryotic organisms formerly known as blue-green algae, now affected by climate change, and the methods of studying cancer in local communities where the water supply has been contaminated by industrial chemicals. Methodologic challenges complicate studies of these issues.

Keywords:   drinking water, waterborne, carcinogens, arsenic, disinfection byproducts, nitrate, cyanobacteria

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