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Email: Drinking Cold Water After a Meal Causes Cancer

Netlore Archive: Forwarded email claims drinking cold water after a meal slows down digestion and coats the intestines with 'sludge,' leading to cancer.

Description: Forwarded email
Circulating since: Feb. 2006
Status: False (see details below)

Email text contributed by Richard L., July 21, 2006:

Cold Water = CANCER

Drinking cold water after meal = Cancer!
(this is not a joke)

For those who like to drink cold water, this article is applicable to you. It is nice to have a cup of cold drink after a meal. However, the cold water will solidify the oily stuff that you have just consumed. It will slow down the digestion.

Once this "sludge" reacted with the acid, it will break down and be absorbed by the intestine faster than the solid food. It will line the intestine.

Very soon, this will turn into fats and lead to cancer. It is best to drink hot soup or warm water after a meal.

Analysis: Rule of thumb: Don't take health advice from anonymous forwarded emails. I scoured every available medical database for articles confirming — or even suggesting — that drinking cold water with meals is harmful, and found not a single one. There's no scientific basis for the claim that cold water will "solidify the oily stuff" you have just consumed, or that this "sludge" will "line the intestine," let alone "turn into fats" and "lead to cancer."

It's pseudo-scientific mumbo-jumbo, and self-contradictory pseudo-scientific mumbo-jumbo at that. The email states that drinking cold water "slows down the digestion," for example, yet in the very next sentence declares that it will cause your stomach contents to "break down and be absorbed by the intestine faster." Well, which is it?

Such studies as do exist mainly extoll the benefits of drinking cold water, especially during and after vigorous exercise. Cold water is absorbed by the body more quickly than warm water and can help lower one's body temperature, preventing dehydration.

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Sources and further reading:

Does Drinking Cold Water Cause Cancer?
About.com: Cancer, 11 February 2010

Is Drinking Cold Water Harmful?
Columbia University Health Services, 13 June 2003

Is Drinking Cold Water During or After Exercise Good or Bad?
Q&A from About.com Walking Guide Wendy Bumgardner

Is It Better for Active People to Drink Warm Water Rather than Cold Water?
Columbia University Health Services, 26 February 1999

Last updated: 11/20/10

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