See what researchers found when they tested a bottle of Fiji Water against a glass of tap water.
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Here are six facts from the video above by The Story of Stuff Project that I'll definitely remember next time I'm tempted to buy bottled water.

1. Bottled water is more expensive than tap water (and not just a little).


A Business Insider column noted that two-thirds of the bottled water sold in the United States is in individual 16.9-ounce bottles, which comes out to roughly $7.50 per gallon. That's about 2,000 times higher than the cost of a gallon of tap water.

And in an article in 20 Something Finance, G.E. Miller investigated the cost of bottled versus tap water for himself. He found that he could fill 4,787 20-ounce bottles with tap water for only $2.10! So if he paid $1 for a bottled water, he'd be paying 2,279 times the cost of tap.

2. Bottled water could potentially be of lower quality than tap water.

Fiji Water ran an ad campaign that was pretty disparaging about the city of Cleveland. Not a wise move. The city ordered a test of the snooty brand's water and found that Fiji Water contained levels of arsenic that weren't seen in the city's water supply.

How was that possible? Sarah Goodman of the New York Times explains:

"Bottled water manufacturers are not required to disclose as much information as municipal water utilities because of gaps in federal oversight authority. Bottom line: The Food and Drug Administration oversees bottled water, and U.S. EPA is in charge of tap water. FDA lacks the regulatory authority of EPA."

3. The amount of bottled water we buy every week in the U.S. alone could circle the globe five times!

That sounded like it just had to be impossible, so we looked into it. Here's what our fact-checkers found:

"According to the video, 'People in the U.S. buy more than half a billion bottles of water every week.' National Geographic says for 2011, bottled water sales hit 9.1 billion gallons (roughly 34 billion liters).

A 'typical' water bottle is a half-liter, so that's about 68 billion bottles per year. Divided by 52 weeks would be a little over 1 billion bottles of water sold per week in the U.S. Because that's based on a smaller 'typical' bottle size, it seems reasonable that a half billion bottles a week could be accurate.

The Earth is about 131.5 million feet around, so yep, half a billion bottles of varying sizes strung end-to-end could circle the Earth five times."



4. Paying for bottled water makes us chumps.

Beverage companies have turned bottled water into a multibillion-dollar industry through a concept known as manufactured demand. Bottled water advertisements used a combination of scare tactics (Tap water bad!) and seduction (From the purest mountain streams EVER!) to reel us in.

Well, we now know their claims about the superior quality of bottled water are mostly bogus. And research shows that anywhere from a quarter to 45% of all bottled water comes from the exact same place as your tap water (which, to reiterate, is so cheap it's almost free).


5. Bottled water is FILTHY.

It takes oil — lots of it — to make plastic bottles. According to the video, the energy in the amount of oil it takes to make the plastic water bottles sold in the U.S. in one year could fuel a million cars. That's not even counting the oil it takes to ship bottled water around the world.

And once we've guzzled our bottled water, up to 80% of the empty bottles end up in landfills or noxious-gas-producing incinerators. The rest is either recycled or shipped to countries like India where poor people without environmental and labor protections have to deal with it.

On top of all that, the process of manufacturing plastic bottles is polluting public water supplies, which makes it easier for bottled water companies to sell us their expensive product.

6. There are 750 million people around the world who don't have access to clean water.

Photo by H2O for Life.

A child dies every minute from a waterborne disease. And for me, that's the core of what makes bottled water so evil.

The video wraps by comparing buying bottled water to smoking while pregnant. That may sound extreme, but after learning everything I just did about the bottled water industry, I can't disagree.

If you're properly disgusted, here are a few ways you can help destroy the bottled water industry:

  1. Don't buy bottled water. Get a reusable water bottle. The savings will add up.
  2. Rally your schools, workplaces, and communities to ban bottled water.
  3. Demand that your city, state, and federal governments invest in better water infrastructure.

Peter and Lisa Marshall's romance began 20 years ago, after the former neighbors had each gotten divorced. They lived in different states and maintained a long-distance relationship for eight years, as neither wanted to uproot her kids. After Lisa's youngest went off to college in 2009, the couple decided to get married.

A dream Turks and Caicos beach wedding followed. Lisa moved to Peter's home in Connecticut, where they enjoyed seven years of marital bliss. Then the warning signs hit.

Peter started giving Lisa directions to their home. He began having trouble finishing sentences, struggling for the words

"Instead of the word 'airplane,' he'd say, 'that thing that goes up in the sky,' " Lisa told The Washington Post. "He also became pretty forgetful, but the word deficiency was really hard to ignore."

Peter went to a neurologist in 2018 and was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's. He was 52.

"Before his diagnosis, I always thought that Alzheimer's was an old person's disease," Lisa told the Post. "Now I know better."

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Peter and Lisa Marshall's romance began 20 years ago, after the former neighbors had each gotten divorced. They lived in different states and maintained a long-distance relationship for eight years, as neither wanted to uproot her kids. After Lisa's youngest went off to college in 2009, the couple decided to get married.

A dream Turks and Caicos beach wedding followed. Lisa moved to Peter's home in Connecticut, where they enjoyed seven years of marital bliss. Then the warning signs hit.

Peter started giving Lisa directions to their home. He began having trouble finishing sentences, struggling for the words

"Instead of the word 'airplane,' he'd say, 'that thing that goes up in the sky,' " Lisa told The Washington Post. "He also became pretty forgetful, but the word deficiency was really hard to ignore."

Peter went to a neurologist in 2018 and was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's. He was 52.

"Before his diagnosis, I always thought that Alzheimer's was an old person's disease," Lisa told the Post. "Now I know better."

Keep Reading Show less
True

Each year, an estimated 1.8 million people in the United States are affected by cancer — most commonly cancers of the breast, lung, prostate, and blood cancers such as leukemia. While not everyone overcomes the disease, thanks to science, more people are surviving — and for longer — than ever before in history.

We asked three people whose lives have been impacted by cancer to share their stories – how their lives were changed by the disease, and how they're using that experience to change the future of cancer treatments with the hope that ultimately, in the fight against cancer, science will win. Here's what they had to say.

Celine Ryan, 55, engineer database programmer and mother of five from Detroit, MI

Photo courtesy of Celine Ryan

In September 2013, Celine Ryan woke up from a colonoscopy to some traumatic news. Her gastroenterologist showed her a picture of the cancerous mass they found during the procedure.

Ryan and her husband, Patrick, had scheduled a colonoscopy after discovering some unusual bleeding, so the suspicion she could have cancer was already there. Neither of them, however, were quite prepared for the results to be positive -- or for the treatment to begin so soon. Just two days after learning the news, Ryan had surgery to remove the tumor, part of her bladder, and 17 cancerous lymph nodes. Chemotherapy and radiation soon followed.

Ryan's treatment was rigorous – but in December 2014, she got the devastating news that the cancer, once confined to her colon, had spread to her lungs. Her prognosis, they said, was likely terminal.

But rather than give up hope, Ryan sought support from online research, fellow cancer patients and survivors, and her medical team. When she brought up immunotherapy to her oncologist, he quickly agreed it was the best course of action. Ryan's cancer, like a majority of colon and pancreatic cancers, had been caused by a defect on the gene KRAS, which can result in a very aggressive cancer that is virtually "undruggable." According to the medical literature, the relatively smooth protein structure of the KRAS gene meant that designing inhibitors to bind to surface grooves and treat the cancer has been historically difficult. Through her support systems, Ryan discovered an experimental immunotherapy trial at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, MD., and called them immediately to see if she was eligible. After months of trying to determine whether she was a suitable candidate for the experimental treatment, Ryan was finally accepted.

The treatment, known as tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte therapy, or TIL, is a testament to how far modern science has evolved. With this therapy, doctors remove a tumor and harvest special immune cells that are found naturally in the tumor. Doctors then grow the cells in a lab over the next several weeks with a protein that promotes rapid TIL growth – and once the cells number into the billions, they are infused back into the patient's body to fight the cancer. On April 1, 2015, Ryan had her tumor removed at the NIH. Two months later, she went inpatient for four weeks to have the team "wash out" her immune system with chemotherapy and infuse the cells – all 148 billion of them – back into her body.

Six weeks after the infusion, Ryan and Patrick went back for a follow-up appointment – and the news they got was stunning: Not only had no new tumors developed, but the six existing tumors in her lungs had shrunk significantly. Less than a year after her cell infusion, in April 2016, the doctors told Ryan news that would have been impossible just a decade earlier: Thanks to the cell infusion, Ryan was now considered NED – no evaluable disease. Her body was cancer-free.

Ryan is still NED today and continuing annual follow-up appointments at the NIH, experiencing things she never dreamed she'd be able to live to see, such as her children's high school and college graduations. She's also donating her blood and cells to the NIH to help them research other potential cancer treatments. "It was an honor to do so," Ryan said of her experience. "I'm just thrilled, and I hope my experience can help a lot more people."

Patrice Lee, PhD, VP of Pharmacology, Toxicology and Exploratory Development at Pfizer

Photo courtesy of Patrice Lee

Patrice Lee got into scientific research in an unconventional way – through the late ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau.

Lee never met Cousteau but her dreams of working with him one day led her to pursue a career in science. Initially, Lee completed an undergraduate degree in marine biology; eventually, her interests changed and she decided to get a dual doctoral degree in physiology and toxicology at Duke University. She now works at Pfizer's R&D site in Boulder, CO (formerly Array BioPharma), leading a group of scientists who determine the safety and efficacy of new oncology drugs.

"Scientists focused on drug discovery and development in the pharmaceutical industry are deeply committed to inventing new therapies to meet unmet needs," Lee says, describing her field of work. "We're driven to achieve new medicines and vaccines as quickly as possible without sacrificing safety."

Among the drugs Lee has helped develop during her career, including cancer therapies, she says around a dozen are currently in development, while nine have received FDA approval — an incredible accomplishment as many scientists spend their careers without seeing their drug make it to market. Lee's team is particularly interested in therapies for brain metastases — something that Lee says is a largely unmet need in cancer research, and something her team is working on from a variety of angles. "Now that we've had rapid success with mRNA vaccine technology, we hope to explore what the future holds when applying this technology to cancers," Lee says.

But while evaluating potential cancer therapies is a professional passion of Lee's, it's also a mission that's deeply personal. "I'm also a breast cancer survivor," she says. "So I've been on the other side of things and have participated in a clinical trial."

However, seeing how melanoma therapies that she helped develop have affected other real-life cancer patients, she says, has been a highlight of her career. "We had one therapy that was approved for patients with BRAF-mutant metastatic melanoma," Lee recalls. "Our team in Boulder was graced by a visit from a patient that had benefited from these drugs that we developed. It was a very special moment for the entire team."

None of these therapies would be available, Lee says without rigorous science behind it: "Facts come from good science. Facts will drive the development of new drugs, and that's what will help patients."

Chiuying "Cynthia" Kuk (they/them) MS, 34, third-year medical student at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine

Photo courtesy of Cynthia Kuk

Cynthia Kuk was just 10 years old when they had a conversation that would change their life forever.

"My mother, who worked as a translator for the government at the time, had been diagnosed with breast cancer, and after her chemotherapy treatments she would get really sick," Kuk, who uses they/them pronouns, recalls. "When I asked my dad why mom was puking so much, he said it was because of the medicine she was taking that would help her get better."

Kuk's response was immediate: "That's so stupid! Why would a medicine make you feel worse instead of better? When I'm older, I want to create medicine that won't make people sick like that."

Nine years later, Kuk traveled from their native Hong Kong to the United States to do exactly that. Kuk enrolled in a small, liberal arts college for their Bachelor's degree, and then four years later started a PhD program in cancer research. Although Kuk's mother was in remission from her cancer at the time, Kuk's goal was the same as it had been as a 10-year-old watching her suffer through chemotherapy: to design a better cancer treatment, and change the landscape of cancer research forever.

Since then, Kuk's mission has changed slightly.

"My mom's cancer relapsed in 2008, and she ended up passing away about five years after that," Kuk says. "After my mom died, I started having this sense of urgency. Cancer research is such that you work for twenty years, and at the end of it you might have a fancy medication that could help people, but I wanted to help people now." With their mother still at the forefront of their mind, Kuk decided to quit their PhD program and enter medical school.

Now, Kuk plans to pursue a career in emergency medicine – not only because they are drawn to the excitement of the emergency room, but because the ER is a place where the most marginalized people tend to seek care.

"I have a special interest in the LGBTQ+ population, as I identify as queer and nonbinary," says Kuk. "A lot of people in this community and other marginalized communities access care through the ER and also tend to avoid medical care since there is a history of mistreatment and judgement from healthcare workers. How you carry yourself as a doctor, your compassion, that can make a huge difference in someone's care."

In addition to making a difference in the lives of LGBTQ+ patients, Kuk wants to make a difference in the lives of patients with cancer as well, like their mother had.

"We've diagnosed patients in the Emergency Department with cancer before," Kuk says. "I can't make cancer good news but how you deliver bad news and the compassion you show could make a world of difference to that patient and their family."

During their training, Kuk advocates for patients by delivering compassionate and inclusive care, whether they happen to have cancer or not. In addition to emphasizing their patient's pronouns and chosen names, they ask for inclusive social and sexual histories as well as using gender neutral language. In doing this, they hope to make medicine as a whole more accessible for people who have been historically pushed aside.

"I'm just one person, and I can't force everyone to respect you, if you're marginalized," Kuk says. "But I do want to push for a culture where people appreciate others who are different from them."