- Yet more scare mongering and contradictions in the newspapers….
- The dangers of swimming in chlorine treated water
- And what exercise is best for protecting against the most frightening diseases of our times?
I saw this headline in The Mail on Sunday at the end of last month:
‘Hidden Danger in Busy Pools!’
It revealed that a ‘new’ report from the American Chemical Society showed that public swimming pools were potentially toxic.
Apparently chlorine reacts badly with sun-tan lotion, sweat and urine, causing genetic damage to humans.
It means that when we go for a healthy swim we’re submerging ourselves a potentially deadly cocktail. And when we’re enjoying a sunny holiday by the pool, we’re actually stewing ourselves in a genetically destructive chemical bath.
OK, so let’s all give up swimming!
Let’s not leave the house!
Let’s all stay by the telly!
But hold on…
The article in The Mail ends with this quote from Dr Jana Witt from Cancer Research UK:
“While this study is interesting, it only looked at how the chemicals that form in water treated with disinfectants affect bacteria. It doesn’t tell us if they affect human health or how long people would have to be exposed to them to experience any effects.”
Ah, so they don’t know for SURE how it affects humans…?
“We wouldn’t suggest people avoid swimming pools,” she says, explaining that swimming reduces the risk of “three types of cancer”.
So effectively, this article is saying…
“Swimming can cause cancer – but for goodness sake don’t stop swimming or you’ll get cancer.”
It’s not news either.
I recall almost the exact same article about SIX years ago in The Telegraph. It was about a study in Illinois that said swimming pool disinfectant reacted with urine and hair to “cause conditions including asthma and bladder cancer.”
Or there was this very similar piece in – yep – The Daily Mail back in 2011.
“Swimming too often in chlorinated water ‘could increase risk of developing bladder cancer’, claim scientists”.
That article talked about trihalomethanes (THM), chemicals created as a by-product of chlorinated water, potentially causing cancer.
This article was even more terrifying because apparently taking a shower or having a long bath ALSO increases the risk of absorbing THM chemicals through your skin.
This contradicts the advice in The Mail on Sunday last month that it’s better to have a shower before you get in a public swimming pool. Showers are bad for you too!
This sort of health article gets wheeled out regularly, from different scientists finding similar sorts of evidence, but essentially along the same lines: namely, that swimming, showering, bathing and drinking bottled water are bad for you.
Thanks to this, everyone stays frightened and NOTHING changes.
We read the article. We worry. We forget. Time moves on.
I’m not disputing the evidence and I think there should be far more care from pool owners to make sure people shower and follow basic hygiene before entering the water. They could drastically lower the chlorine levels using:
- UV filtration: this is where water is irradiated by ultraviolet light to kill bacteria.
- Ozone: this is an oxidiser, that works like UV filtration
Both would still need a small amount of chlorine to work. Or there’s electrolysis, in which salt is turned into a natural form of chlorine without the smell or chemical impact. Certainly, if you want to pressure your local pool owner into healthier practises, that’s something you can do.
But this email isn’t about swimming pool management.
It’s about you taking control of your health.
Because I think it’s becoming clear that that biggest cause of cancer is……being alive.
Yes, we live in a deadly chemical world where almost everything we create artificially has some kind of nasty medical knock-on effect. If you regularly read a paper like The Daily Mail or Express then you’ll know that almost EVERYHING causes cancer – the air, the water, the food you eat.
So what are you supposed to do?
The world of health advice reminds me of the book Catch 22, where American bomber pilots caught up in a lethal contradiction….
The only way they can get out of flying lethal bombing missions is to be certified insane….
But anyone who claims to be insane in order to avoid flying MUST, in fact, be sane.
Only a crazy person would want to fly bombing missions!
And so none of them ever get to escape their fate.
So do you swim or NOT swim?
The fact is, one of best way to stay healthy and boost your immune system is to do exercise. Along with eating well, it’s a pillar of good health and long life. It lifts your mood, gets blood flowing to your organs and strengthens your heart.
Swimming is one of the gentlest, low impact, high cardio exercises you can do. It’s sometimes known as “the perfect workout”. But unless you’re wealthy enough to have your own pool, or live by a clean beach, you need to go to a public one. Yes, chlorine is bad, but if that’s the exercise you need, then don’t be frightened away.
As an alternative you can go for daily brisk walks. Studies show that walking lowers levels of bad cholesterol, strengthens your bones, controls blood pressure and lowers your risk of diabetes and heart disease. It can even improve your memory and prevent cognitive decline. Just remember that unless you live in the countryside, you’re exposing yourself to traffic pollutants – but it’s better to walk than to sit inside in fear. You cannot help where you live!
Or there’s running, which experts claim can damage joints and ligaments long term. But whatever the side-effects, it’s far better to do something healthy that you enjoy than to find excuses in the tabloid health sections NOT to do it.
I’d recommend that any exercise that motivates you, fits into your lifestyle, and that makes you happy is always BETTER than avoiding it because of scare stories. You have more to lose by not exercising.
For more on this topic, check out Why Newspapers are Bad for Your Health.
And if you get problems with wheeziness when exercising, or avoid exercise because of a chronic cough, asthma or allergies, then consider getting yourself a salt pipe. It’s a natural way to flush the toxins from your respiratory system: find out about the salt-pipe
I’ll be back with more next week. Until next time, stay healthy!