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Unchartered Waters

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Unchartered Waters

We are fortunate to live in a county that sets stringent regulations for tap water safety. The Environmental Protection Agency requires city water systems to test water supplies regularly for bacteria, parasites and viruses that can make people sick. 

Nevertheless, those regulations are based on how bacteria affect healthy immune systems. Some cancers and treatments weaken your immune system and make it harder for your body to fight off infections that might not otherwise make you sick.

Hydrate Safely

According to the American Cancer Society, people with low white blood cell counts caused by certain cancer treatments should drink only water from municipal water sources or commercially bottled water. If you're concerned about the safety of your tap water, follow these recommendations:

  • Bone up on testing requirements. The EPA's testing requirements apply to city water supplies, not private wells. If you get water from a private well, contact the Georgia Department of Public Health for help with bacterial testing. 
  • Heat your water to a rolling boil and boil it at a minimum for one minute. Store it in a clean, covered container in your refrigerator and use it within three days. 
  • Purchase a filter certified to remove bacteria, viruses and germs. Not all filters are created equal. Some remove only chlorine and unpleasant flavors, while others are more comprehensive. Reverse osmosis filters and ultraviolet treatment systems remove some (but not all) bacteria, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but no filter can remove 100% of every possible contaminant. Look for filters certified by an organization called NSF to ensure they will effectively remove the contaminants advertised. 

"People with cancer need to drink plenty of water to counteract treatment side effects, such as vomiting and diarrhea, that can lead to dehydration," said David Saunders, MD, radiation oncologist at Archbold Cancer Center. "If you don't think your tap water is safe, talk to your oncologist or dietitian. We can help you find safe drinking water if necessary."

Let Archbold help you navigate a cancer diagnosis. Call 229.586.8223 to learn more.