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Interesting Information: Fluoride for Breakfast–How’s Your Thyroid

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Interesting Information:  November 13, 2011

I am fortunate to have met a new Camden resident:  Dr. Judith Valentine.  Here’s a mini-bio of her experience:

Dr. Judith Valentine is a PhD nutritionist with over 20 years working with doctors and patients in the field of clinical nutrition and wellness. She has lectured at many businesses and governmental agencies including the USDA, NSA, FortMeade, Kaiser Permanente, Whole Foods, Barnes and Noble, and various hospitals and colleges in Maryland, DC, and in Maine. She has written many science-related articles and published a book with CO-author Dr. Janet Cunningham, Weight Solutions: The New Body-Mind-Spirit Approach.  Dr. Valentine lives inCamden,Maine.

Judith knows chemistry in a way that is truly helpful for people like me.  Here’s an essay she’s written on the chemistry of fluoride in relationship to the human body:

Fluoride for Breakfast – How’s Your Thyroid?

In January of this year the federal government proposed that the level of fluoride in drinking water be lowered to 0.7 mg/l, the lower end of the current recommended range of 0.7 to 1.2 mg/l. The Maine CDC will begin related rule-making this year. Some think we should remove fluoride totally from our public water and others feel safe with the new lower levels.

Whenever a health controversy arises, I always go to science. Particularly to unbiased chemists and biochemists not employed by industries directly related to the controversy. Independent experts evaluate the effects of compounds on living systems free from the temptation of the end justifying the means. Too often impartial experts are not sought out when we are struggling to make safe health decisions. In this article I present a pragmatic argument for totally removing fluoride from our drinking water and attempt to show, in understandable terms, how fluoride is harmful to the body.

A strong move was taken as far back as 1998 by hundreds of EPA scientists and professionals who voted unanimously to oppose the fluoridation initiative in California. “Our members’ review of the body of evidence over the last eleven years, including animal and human epidemiology studies, indicates a causal link between fluoride/fluoridation and cancer, genetic damage, neurological impairment, and bone pathology. Of particular concern are recent epidemiology studies linking fluoride exposure to lowered IQ in children.” [emphasis mine]

Although harmful effects of fluoride can occur throughout the body, a straightforward example is its injurious effect on the thyroid. While diagnosed thyroid diseases have been increasing rapidly over time, according to the Colorado Thyroid Disease Prevalence Study in 2000, up to 13 million Americans may have undiagnosed thyroid conditions. The root cause of damage to the thyroid and elsewhere in the body can be found by examining the characteristics of fluoride.

To better understand fluoride, it helps to remember the elemental chart. Perhaps you’ve been trying to forget it since high school or college. In the upper right, you find the so-called halogens. They are listed from top to bottom in this order: fluoride, chlorine, bromine, iodine, and astatine. The order sequences the most aggressive halogen to the least aggressive; fluoride being the strongest and iodine being much weaker.

Fluoride is not essential to the body but iodine is and is found in every cell. Iodine is necessary for healthy cell metabolism (activity) throughout the body and no other molecule can be substituted. The highest concentrations of iodine are found in the thyroid gland. Because iodine is weaker, cell uptake is often displaced at the receptor site by the stronger, very similar fluoride molecule if it is present. This pushing away of iodine leads to diminishing levels and the inevitable progressive failure of the thyroid system so dependent on iodine to function.

Why do we need Iodine? In biochemistry the iodine molecule is utilized to generate vital thyroid-related hormones such as TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone), and T3 and T4 hormones active inside the thyroid gland. Underactive thyroid (hypothyroid) is directly connected to the low production of these hormones due in great part to depleted iodine levels. When considering this, I can’t help but think about the millions on Synthroid; the fourth most prescribed pharmaceutical drug in theUSthis year. What would a small amount of iodine do to help these individuals?

What’s so bad about fluoride?  Fluoride is found in its natural, elemental state or in combination with another compound. Because of its antagonism to iodine, it was discovered that fluoride could be used to treat thyroid hyperfunction (over activity). Experiments were run inEuropein the 1930’s using the fluoride compound, fluorotyrosine, for this purpose. As a result, thyroid function was greatly depressed. However, dosing levels were unpredictable and unfortunately many experienced total thyroid loss. As a result of those experiments, the strong compound was given a new role – as a pesticide.

Here’s why; fluoride’s pesticide effects are formidable because of its activity as an enzyme distorter. Enzymes are complex proteins that are necessary for all biological chemical activity. Enzyme-protein chains are connected by other compounds called amides. Fluoride molecules split and distort amides damaging the enzyme-protein chains. These breakdowns and distortions of vital proteins make them unrecognizable by the immune system which therefore attacks them. An unremitting biochemical alteration such as this within the immune system is one of the reasons we see so many autoimmune disorders today, including autoimmune disruptions of the thyroid.

An argument in support of water fluoridation states that while admitting to its potential harmfulness the dilution of one part per million offsets the potential damage. However, enzyme damage has been shown to occur at extremely low concentrations, even lower than 1ppm.

Unfortunately, fluoride levels build up steadily over time because the body can only eliminate approximately half of total intake. Levels also increase due to its prevalence in water, the air, foods, toothpaste and pesticide residues. The EPA was concerned enough to announce in January, “…the majority of foods will not be fumigated with sulfuryl fluoride beginning this year and all food fumigation…will end in three years.” This is a good start for the younger set, but what about our older community who already experience injurious effects of long term fluoride excess?

Given this article’s example of one of the many deleterious effects of fluoride, why would we want to continuously expose our bodies to additional levels? The precautionary rule would suggest that we eliminate fluoride from our water and consider other already available and safe ways to reach our goal of fewer dental cavities.

A pertinent question was asked by Dr. Barry Durrant-Peatfield in his capacity as medical advisor to theUnited Kingdom when fluoridation was being considered there. “I would like to place a scenario in front of those colleagues who favour fluoridation. A new pill is marketed. Some trials not all together satisfactory, nevertheless, show a striking improvement in dental caries. Unfortunately, it has been found to be thyrotoxic, mutagenic, immunosuppressive, cause arthritis and infertility in comparatively small doses over a relatively short period of time. Do you think it should be marketed?”

If we were to ask the same question in Maine, what would our answer be?

Written by louisaenright

November 13, 2011 at 12:53 pm

Interesting Information: Fluoride Stays in Damariscotta and Newcastle

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Interesting Information:  November 13, 2011

Fluoride Stays in Damariscotta and Newcastle

The citizens of Damariscotta and Newcastle voted–by a very small margin–to keep fluoride in their water system.  Local people conjecture that the overwhelming reason is that local doctors and dentists came out strongly in favor of keeping fluoride.

When reading the letters and the statements of our local health professionals–which have appeared in local papers and which were made at local informational meetings–it’s clear that their reasoning is solidly located in their own, anecdotal, belief systems and in their faith in the positions taken by major health groups, like the national pediatric association–none of which–famously– have done any work of their own in this area.  What has resulted is a host of endorsements–not science.

It’s clear that these health professionals want to do the right thing.  But, it’s also clear that they have not done their own due diligence–and for that lack of personal work–they have a lot for which to answer.

One of the most egregious examples of the above would be that the 2006 EPA-commissioned NRC report–which was critical of fluoridation and which raised countless red warning flags about fluoridation–was quoted by local health officials as if it supported continued fluoridation.  Another example would be that they ignored the ignominious history of how fluoridation started in the first place.  Another would be the almost total lack of study of the impact of fluoride on human bodies–even though 42% of children today have dental fluorosis.  Another would be the numerous studies–often coming from other countries–of harm being done by fluoride.   Another would be that the EPA recently lowered the acceptable levels of fluoride in water and is moving to ban fluorine-based chemicals on foods.  (It probably helped that they were faced with a powerful law suit if they didn’t act.)

Traditionally, our health professionals are people to whom many look for good information, and in this case of fluoridation, these people have let down their communities in a very fundamental way.  Indeed, it’s actions like this one that have resulted in my own pretty much total lack of faith in our current medical system and the people who staff it.  I realize that they, too, are caught in a system that requires them to order tests and drugs that are not needed and that are, too often, harmful. But, the end result is harm–for people who have sworn to “first, do no harm.”

Written by louisaenright

November 13, 2011 at 12:50 pm

Mainely Tipping Points 34: Part 1: THE CASE AGAINST FLUORIDE

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PART 1:  THE CASE AGAINST FLUORIDE

 

Like many of you, I suspect, until very recently I never questioned the safety of fluoridating the general water supply.  Fluoride makes teeth stronger, right?  The government and many health organizations–like the American Dental Association, the American Medical Association, and the American Public Health Association–have scientific studies showing fluoridation is safe, right?  We’ve been fluoridating water for sixty years now with no ill effects, right?

My awareness of the toxicity and danger of fluoride and of the practice of fluoridation came slowly.  In 2006 when I started seriously researching food and health issues, information about fluoride toxicity emerged slowly.  There were some disturbing assessments in the Weston A. Price Foundation’s (WAPF) materials.  A local activist asked me to look deeper because she believed broken bones in children were much more common today due to fluoridation.  The fact that one of my grandchildren had already, at age two, fallen off the back of a sofa onto a thick carpet and broken his arm began to echo in my head.   I agreed fluoride was likely a problem, but I had other research and essays lined up to do first. 

In late June, I started getting ready for my family’s  annual summer visits by stockpiling food and household supplies.  Only, I couldn’t find a toothpaste for the children that didn’t contain fluoride.  Standing in the toothpaste aisles of various local stores, I remembered seeing recent email alerts concerning new information about fluoridation and brain damage in children. 

Because the FDA classifies fluoride as a drug, the FDA requires adult toothpastes to carry the following dire warning:  “Keep out of the reach of children under 6 years of age.  If you swallow more than used for brushing, get medical help or contact a poison control center right away.”  A dose is the size of a pea.      

Toothpastes, including children’s toothpastes, warn users not to swallow.  Have you tried, lately, telling children who are two, three, and four years old not to swallow when the color is luscious and the flavor delicious?

About this time, Tim Boyd reviewed THE CASE AGAINST FLUORIDE:  HOW HAZARDOUS WASTE ENDED UP IN OUR DRINKING WATER AND THE BAD SCIENCE AND POWERFUL POLITICS THAT KEEP IT THERE, by Paul Connett, PhD, James Beck, MD, PhD, and H.S. Micklem, DPhil, in the spring 2011 WAPF’S journal, WISE TRADITIONS (59).  Boyd noted the authors’ statement that the pea-sized dab of toothpaste contains as much fluoride as one glass of fluoridated water.  Boyd asked if adults call the Poison Control Center after drinking the recommended eight glasses of water per day since they would have exceeded EPA’s daily safety dose for fluoride.

Connett et al explain that controlling the concentration of fluoride is not the same thing as controlling the dose of fluoride, which includes not just drinking fluoridated water but the total dose from other sources, like toothpaste, tea, wine, pesticide residues on food, mechanically deboned meat, and food and beverages processed with fluorideated water (207).  With water, the “dose gets larger the more water is drunk; and the larger the dose, the more likely it will cause harm” since fluoride “is…highly toxic” (8-9).  Further, the kidneys only excrete 50 percent of the fluoride ingested; the rest moves mostly into calcifying tissues like the bones and the brain’s pineal gland and concentrates in the kidneys (123).    

Since scientific credentials are hugely important in the debate about fluoridation, do Connett et al have the kind of knowledge needed to assess the toxicity of fluoride? Connett’s PhD is in chemistry from Dartmouth.  He specializes in environmental chemistry and toxicology.  Until his retirement in 2006, he was a full professor at St. Lawrence University.  Additionally, for twenty-five years he’s worked in waste management.  He currently directs the Fluoride Action Network, whose website is a source of valuable information. 

Beck holds two doctorates:  Medicine from the Washington University School of Medicine and Biophysics from the University of California.  He is currently professor emeritus of medical biophysics at the University of Calgary, Canada. 

Micklem’s doctorate is from the University of Oxford.  He publishes mainly in the fields of stem cell biology and immunology.  He is an emeritus professor in the School of Biological Sciences, University of Edinburgh, UK, and has held visiting research fellowships at l’Institut Pasteur in Paris, Stanford University, and New York University School of Medicine.   

Connett et al’s fluoridation history follows the pattern I’ve seen in my research where a handful of determined men with cultural and political power successfully institute a problematic health practice.  Among the most effective men in 1950, when the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) endorsed fluoridation, were Gerald Cox, a researcher at the Mellon Institute whose research was funded by Alcoa aluminum, and Harold Hodge, the chief toxicologist for the U.S. Army’s Manhattan Project, who supervised experiments where uranium and plutonium were injected into unsuspecting hospital patients (80-81).

Connett et al show that in 1950 there were many scientists with grave concerns about putting an untested drug into the public water supply.  From the 1930s onward there was “a considerable amount of scientific literature, particularly from Europe and from the U.S. Department of Agriculture,  that fluoride posed problems to the bone and to the thyroid (83).  These studies were ignored or dismissed. 

The PHS made its momentous decision to validate fluoridation based on two flawed studies, an article by Cox and Hodge, and two ongoing studies whose results were unpublished, so had not yet been subject to peer review (82-83).  It was a rigged process.          

So, once again, industry benefit is part of this history.   At first, the metal industry benefitted, and, now, the phosphate fertilizer industry benefits.  But also there were then and are now many people who believed/believe that fluoridation would help children, especially poor children, have better dental health and who trusted that the organizations to which they looked for scientific truth had actually researched fluoride objectively. 

Astonishingly, Connett et al report that no federal agency accepts responsibility for the safety of fluoridation.   

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has never approved fluoride for ingestion and rates fluoride as an “unapproved drug”—which is why it can mandate the toothpaste warning.  Nor has the FDA subjected fluoride to rigorous randomized clinical trials for either its effectiveness or its long-term safety (270). 

At the Center for Disease Control (CDC), only the Oral Health Division (OHD) is involved with fluoridation, and the OHD is staffed largely by dental personnel.  In 2008, Connett et al note, not one of the 29 staff members had scientific degrees qualifying them to assess the toxicity of fluoride, yet this division aggressively promotes fluoridation throughout the United States (23-24). 

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has an indirect role in that it regulates safe standards for all “contaminants” in drinking water.  In 2002, as it is legally required to do every 10 years, the EPA asked the National Research Council (NRC) to review the current 4 ppm (parts per million) Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) standard.  The NRC appointed a 12-member panel that, the authors state, was “the most balanced ever appointed in the United States to do any kind of review on fluoride” 137).  This panel issued its 507-page report in March 2006, in which it declared that the seemingly low-level 4 ppm maximum standard was not protective of health (25).

The ADA declared the NRC report irrelevant to water fluoridation on the day it was released—claiming erroneously that the panel only reviewed water fluoridation of 4 ppm.  The panel, in fact, “examined several studies that found adverse effects at levels less than 2 ppm” (138). 

The CDC followed six days later with the same conclusion.  To date, write the authors, the CDC has produced “no comprehensive analysis to support its claim.”  And “it’s hard to believe that in six days Oral Health Division personnel could have read and digested the report, let alone its over 1,100 references” (140).  

Ironically, in 1999, the CDC “finally conceded what many dental researchers had been reporting over the previous two decades:  Fluoride’s predominant mechanism of action was topical, not systemic.  In other words, if fluoride works at all, it does so via direct exposure to the outside of the tooth and not from inside the body” (13).  So, write Connett et al, to continue “the practice of forcing people to ingest fluoride has become even more absurd (269-270).

Part 2 will address fluoride’s specific toxicity in the body and claims of its efficacy.