Drink Up

Researchers in the United Kingdom are suggesting that zinc and magnesium in the domestic drinking water of far southwest England may, by association, protect against childhood diabetes. According to the September 2001 issue of Diabetic Medicine, the researchers are calling for further confirmation of any protective qualities.

For the study, researchers from the Department of Molecular Medicine at Plymouth Postgraduate Medical School, University of Plymouth, aimed to examine the relationship between nitrate, zinc and magnesium in drinking water and the risk of childhood-onset type 1 diabetes. Previous studies have reported inconsistent results when investigating the association between some compositions (e.g., nitrate) in domestic water and the risk of childhood-onset type 1.

The study identified 517 children, aged 0 to 15 years, who had been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes between 1975 and 1996. The study covered the Cornwall and the former Plymouth Health Authority Regions in the far southwestern area of England.

Domestic water analysis for the years 1993 through 1997 was provided for each of the 40 Water Supply Zones in which the subjects had lived at the time of their type 1 diagnosis.

Data collected suggested that copper, magnesium and nitrate might have some protective effects. However, other data showed that only zinc and magnesium were significant factors.

“The data suggest that the incidence rate of childhood diabetes is significantly lower when the concentrations of zinc and magnesium in the domestic drinking water are in the range µg/l and greater than 2.61 mg/l respectively,” write the researchers.

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