Acidic Water Linked to Type 1 Diabetes

How Acidity May Help Cause the Disease Is Unknown

From the WebMD Archives

Sept. 11, 2002 -- Can something as simple as tap water have something to do with diabetes? A new study from Norway suggests that water acidity is linked to the risk of developing type 1 diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes generally affects children and young adults and accounts for 5% to 10% of all diabetes cases.

Researchers tested tap water from the homes of 64 children with type 1 diabetes and 250 of those without it. They found a link between cases of diabetes and water with high acidity levels. Acidic water was associated with a four times greater risk of type 1 diabetes. The study, by Lars C. Stene, PhD, and colleagues, is reported in the September issue of Diabetes Care.

No study has found a specific environmental factor for the cause of type 1 diabetes. And the report says there's no known reason why acidity level might be involved. Previous studies tested municipal water sources but not individual household tap water. The researchers say they believe this method is better because it takes into account different water pipes in different homes and other factors like use of filters or purification devices.

The researchers say acidity alone probably isn't to blame in this link with type 1 diabetes. They suspect it may be a marker of another factor, such as harmful microorganisms, which survive better in more acidic water. And they recommend further study, especially in other locations, because their results don't necessarily apply to other areas or countries.

Acidity is measured by pH. A pH of 7 is neutral, and below 7 is acidic. In this study, water pH levels of 6.2 to 6.9 were associated with type 1 diabetes.

This study only shows an association; no proven cause and effect exists. More research is needed to determine if water acidity is truly a factor in type 1 diabetes.