Israeli researchers find heart disease link with desalinated water

Researchers at Israel's Bar Ilan University and the Tel HaShomer Hospital have concluded that consumption of desalinated water has upped the incidence of heart disease and increased death rates as a consequence.

Under-consumption of magnesium is understood to increase the rates of heart disease. And depleted levels of the metal are found in desalinated drinking water compared to natural sources of water. The Bar Ilan researchers looked at some 4,600 patients with heart disease in hospitals around Israel and found that patients who lived in areas supplied with desalinated water showed higher death rates.

The researchers found the death rates started to increase in the hospitals sited amid the areas where use of desalinated water increased and continued to do so as desalination consumption grew.

Blood magnesium levels measured in 2013 in patients from areas where either desalinated or natural supplies prevailed, showed the levels to be lower in the desalinated water areas. More than 200 patients were checked in total.

Increasing consumption of desalinated water from 250 million m³ in 2010 to more than 600 million m³ today has amplified the problem.

The Israeli Water Authority said adding magnesium may not be the most effective way to address the problem. It said there was no evidence to prove that adding it to water was more effective than adding it to food or by taking supplements. It estimated the cost of adding magnesium to desalinated water was more than INS 300 million (US$ 80 million) a year while only 1% of the desalinated water produced in the country was used for drinking.

The Israeli health ministry reported in 2010: "though there is no required magnesium standard, we must tolerate no delay in adding magnesium to the treated water."

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