Nitrates in drinking water and risk of death from rectal cancer in Taiwan.J Toxicol Environ Health A 2007; 70(20):1717-22JT
The relationship between nitrate levels in drinking water and rectal cancer development has been inconclusive. A matched case-control and nitrate ecology study was used to investigate the association between mortality attributed to rectal cancer and drinking-water nitrate exposure in Taiwan. All deaths due to rectal cancer of Taiwan residents from 1999 through 2003 were obtained from the Bureau of Vital Statistics of the Taiwan Provincial Department of Health. Controls were deaths from other causes and were pair matched to the cancer cases by gender, year of birth, and year of death. Each matched control was selected randomly from the set of possible controls for each case. Data on nitrate-nitrogen (NO3-N) levels in drinking water throughout Taiwan were collected from Taiwan Water Supply Corporation (TWSC). The municipality of residence for cancer cases and controls was assumed to be the source of the subject's nitrate exposure via drinking water. The adjusted odds ratios for rectal cancer death for those with high nitrate levels in their drinking water, as compared to the lowest tertile, were 1.22 (0.98-1.52) and 1.36 (1.08-1.70), respectively. The findings of this study warrant further investigation of the role of nitrates in drinking water in the etiology of rectal cancer in Taiwan.