Hard Water May Protect Against Heart Attacks
Fluoride in Water May Reduce the Risk of Heart Attack
Jan. 14, 2004 -- The harder the water, the fewer the heart
attacks? That's what a new Finnish study suggests.
Researchers found that the higher the concentration of
minerals, otherwise known as the "hardness" of the water, the lower the
risk of heart attack and heart disease across different regions in Finland.
Although the study can't pinpoint exactly which minerals were
responsible for these effects, researchers say analyses suggest that higher
fluoride levels were protective but higher levels of iron and copper in the
water had the opposite effect.
Hard Water Helps Hearts
For years, researchers have been puzzled by seemingly
unexplainable differences in the frequency of heart disease across Finland. For
example, heart disease rates have been 40% higher in the eastern part of the
country than in the western part for the last 50 years.
In this study, published in the January issue of the Journal
of Epidemiology and Community Health, researchers analyzed water hardness
in several sections of Finland as well as heart disease and death in nearly
Researchers found that for every one-unit increase in water
hardness, there was a corresponding 1% decrease in the risk of heart
Specifically, each increase in fluoride in household drinking
water was associated with a 3% decrease in the risk of heart attack. But each
increase in copper and iron was associated with an increase in heart attack
risk of 4% and 10%, respectively.
Researchers say water hardness can't account for all
geographical differences in heart attack rates because factors like lifestyle,
genetic disposition, and environmental also play a role. But some trace and
mineral elements may be more readily absorbed through water than in food and
have an impact on the development of some chronic disease, such as heart