The objectives of this study were to (1) examine the relationship between nitrate levels in public water supplies and risk of death from brain cancer and (2) determine whether calcium (Ca) and magnesium (Mg) levels in drinking water might modify the influence of nitrates on development of brain cancer. A matched cancer case-control study was used to investigate the relationship between the risk of death from brain cancer and exposure to nitrates in drinking water in Taiwan. All brain cancer deaths of Taiwan residents from 2003 through 2008 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 cancer cases by gender, year of birth, and year of death. Information on the levels of nitrate-nitrogen (NO3-N), Ca, and Mg in drinking water was obtained from Taiwan Water Supply Corporation (TWSC). The municipality of residence for cancer cases and controls was presumed to be the source of the subject's NO3-N, Ca, and Mg exposure via drinking water. Relative to individuals whose NO3-N exposure level was <0.38 ppm, the adjusted OR (95% CI) for brain cancer occurrence was 1.04 (0.85–1.27) for individuals who resided in municipalities served by drinking water with a NO3-N exposure ?0.38 ppm. No marked effect modification was observed due to Ca and Mg intake via drinking water on brain cancer occurrence.
Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part A 74,747-756