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Does Drinking Cold Water Cause Cancer?


Updated April 23, 2014

Question: Does Drinking Cold Water Cause Cancer?
I received an email that said that drinking cold water after eating causes cancer. The email said the cold water would "solidify the oily stuff" that had just been eaten. Is this true? Does drinking cold water after eating cause cancer?
Answer: Everyday it seems like a new study says X causes cancer, making it difficult to separate fact from fiction! This email is just one of many that claim certain things cause cancer, like certain brands of lipstick and underwire bras. Thankfully this is an email hoax, just like the other cancer emails.

First, when you drink cold or warm beverages, they don't remain hot or cold for long. The liquid quickly becomes the same as your body temperature. So drinking something cold doesn't stay cool in the stomach. For the "oily stuff to become solidified" (which does not occur), super powerful enzymes would have to be at work to create such a reaction so quickly.

Plus, you have to account for the highly acidic environment of stomach. Stomach acid breaks down mostly everything to a thick liquid consistency before it travels to the small intestine. Not much really survives stomach acid -- with the exception of foods that contain cellulose like corn and lettuce. Our bodies simply lack the enzyme necessary to break it down. You may find it interesting to know that normal stomach acid with a pH of 1 to 2 is about one million times more acidic than water.

Finally, no medical studies support this claim. Be confident that a cool glass of water after dinner isn't going to increase your cancer risk. You may want to concentrate on reducing your cancer risk by doing things that are known to lower your risk:
  • not smoking and avoiding second hand smoke
  • not consuming excessive amounts of alcohol
  • practicing sun safety
  • eating a well-balanced diet
  • exercising regularly


Argonne National Laboratory. Office of DOE Science Education. Cold water and protein digestion.

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