Trace element content in drinking water of nasopharyngeal carcinoma patients

Cancer Lett. 1988 Jul;41(1):91-7. doi: 10.1016/0304-3835(88)90059-6.


Chinese in the Xiangxi region of Hunan province in China have a high incidence of nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC). For analyzing the relation between NPC and trace elements, the concentrations of 7 trace elements in drinking water (well water) of high- and low-incidence areas were measured (75 samples). The results showed that the concentrations of Ni, Zn and Cd in drinking water of high-incidence areas were significantly higher than those in low-incidence areas. Especially, the Ni level in drinking water had a significant positive correlation with NPC mortality. These observations are consistent with earlier studies. We also found a highly positive correlation between Ni/pH value in drinking water and NPC mortality. This suggests that only considering the ion concentration in drinking water is not enough, we should also pay attention to the pH of the drinking water when we study the relation between NPC and trace elements. Because the pH of the medium can strongly affect trace element chemical characteristics and its metabolic state in living systems, the M/pH (M, metal concentration) may be an important factor worthy of further research.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Nasopharyngeal Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Trace Elements / analysis*
  • Water Supply / analysis*


  • Trace Elements