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If you only ever drink the purest, bottled mineral water because you want to avoid any risks that might be associated with chemicals that may or may not be in tap water – as many riskfactorphobes probably do – you may also want to bathe or shower in bottled water too. That’s right. According to researchers from the Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology in Spain’s Castilla La Mancha, Spain, by drinking bottled water you may think you’re protecting yourself against water contaminants. But the water in your bath or shower could also be harmful, thanks to the chlorine it contains, say the researchers whose study is published in the journal Environmental Health.

First of all, chlorine isn’t just added to the water in swimming pools (though that’s probably what most people associate chlorinated water with). Chlorine is added to the water supply too. Sometimes you can almost smell it when you take a bath or shower. Not as much as in swimming pools though, admittedly.

But the process of chlorinating water creates chemicals called trihalomethanes (THMs). The bad news is THMs are carcinogenic (cancer-causing). And even worse, they can be absorbed by the skin, claim the Spanish researchers.

So if you take lots of baths and showers – if you exercise regularly, for instance, you may take more than one shower a day – or if you swim in a chlorinated pool on a regular basis, the THMs you absorb could increase your risk for bladder cancer. But let’s get a little perspective. The risk is “small”, the researchers add.

The irony, of course, is that people who drink expensive bottled mineral water may be among those who are more likely to do regular exercise and be obsessive about bodily hygiene (or is that too much of a generalisation?). So while they swig the pure stuff, they’re exposing themselves to more harmful chemicals by bathing or showering frequently.

So what’s the solution? If you’re nervous about even a “small” risk increase (and no, I don’t have any figures, so I can’t say how small that is – but if a researcher claims a risk is small, you can bet it’s not that significant), you could always buy a chlorine filter for your bath or shower (natural health writer Janie Lee Grace is a fan of chlorine filters – click the links for products you can buy fromĀ  her website).

There again you could just go the eco route and take fewer baths and showers.