Mainely Tipping Points 35: Part 2: THE CASE AGAINST FLUORIDE

Tipping Points 35



In THE CASE AGAINST FLUORIDE:  HOW HAZARDOUS WASTE ENDED UP IN OUR DRINKING WATER AND THE BAD SCIENCE AND POWERFUL POLITICS THAT KEEP IT THERE (2010), Paul Connett, PhD, James Beck, MD, PhD, and H.S. Micklem, DPhil, demonstrate both that there is now documented worldwide evidence that low levels of fluoride are dangerously toxic for humans and that evidence for the effectiveness of fluoride in either making teeth stronger via ingestion or preventing tooth decay is very weak.  Connett et al conclude that the known, serious risks of fluoridation harm outweigh any claimed, but unproven, benefits.  

 With regard to fluoride’s effectiveness for tooth decay as an ingested drug, Connett et al note that 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). 

 Connett et al explain that “the vast majority of countries in the world—including…nearly all European countries—do not fluoridate their water.”  And, World Health Organization data show that “rates of tooth decay in twelve-year-olds have been coming down as fast in non-fluoridated countries as in fluoridated ones.”  “Moreover, there is no evidence where fluoridation has been started and stopped in Europe that there has been a rise in tooth decay” (33).  Connett et al demonstrate that in most cases, countries rejecting fluoridation do so because health issues have “not been resolved” and because they do not “want to force it on people who didn’t want it” (32).  Connett et al show repeatedly that income level is “a far greater factor affecting dental decay than the percentage of the population that has fluoridated water” (40) and argue that “very high rates of tooth decay in the United States occur in cities that have been fluoridated for years” (170). 

 Connett et al explain that the fluoride added to public water is not a pharmaceutical grade drug—it’s a hazardous waste product from the phosphate fertilizer industry that cannot legally be dumped locally or into the ocean.  Once purchased by public water utilities, it becomes a “product” and escapes EPA’s “legal requirements for handling hazardous waste.”  No tests have been done to determine how much radioactive material or arsenic this hazardous waste contains (17-18). 

 A turning point in fluoridation should come as a result of the National Research Council’s (NRC) 2006 report on fluoridated water.  Connett et al show that this EPA-commissioned report determined that “fluoride was associated with damage to the teeth, bone, brain, and endocrine system and possibly caused bone cancer.”  The panel concluded that the “U.S. safe drinking water standard for fluoride (4 ppm) was not protective of health.”  And, “since the report was published, further evidence has emerged of lowered IQ associated with exposure to fluoride and of an increased incidence of osteosarcoma in boys who drink fluoridated water in the sixth to eighth years of life” (271, 181-194).     

 Fifty percent of all fluoride ingested stays in the body.  Fluoride calcifies in human bone and in the pineal gland, located between the two brain hemispheres, and concentrates in the kidneys. 

 Today, 32% of children in the United States in fluoridated areas have dental fluorosis, or visible damage to their tooth enamel, which means that “a child has swallowed too much fluoride before the permanent teeth have erupted” (270). For example, babies on formula in a 1 ppm fluoridated water system get up to 250 times more fluoride than a breast-fed baby (x, 270).  Dental fluorosis is a sign of systemic toxicity (114)—which means, as the NRC report and Connett et al conclude, that fluoride is likely having a much greater adverse effect on the body than its promoters over the years have realized.

 Connett et al discuss a recent study in Mexico which connected the severity of dental fluorosis to the incidence of bone fractures in children and adults (169-170).  And they note that the practice of using high doses of fluoride to treat osteoporosis results in, among other outcomes, an increase in hip fractures and gastrointestinal damage (174-175, 130-133). 

 The NRC report determined that clinical Stage II skeletal fluorosis is an “ `adverse health effect, as it is associated with chronic joint pain, arthritic symptoms, slight calcification of ligaments, and osteosclerosis of cancellous [porous] bones’ “ (139).  Connett et al note that skeletal fluorosis mimics arthritis which makes it hard to diagnose and that the United States has very high rates of physician-diagnosed arthritis—rates which are rising, likely due to the fact that “the aging process will coincide with lifelong accumulation of fluoride in…bones and joints” (170-171).    

 The NRC report noted that fluorides can interfere with brain and body functions by both direct and indirect means; that fluorides can produce free radicals in the brain, which can increase the risk of developing Alzeimers; and that the consistency of the Chinese studies looking into the effect of fluorides on human intelligence warrant additional research (151-152).  The NRC panel was not able to rule out the “possibility that fluoridation is associated with an increased risk of Down syndrome in children of young mothers (144).  And, the panel concluded that fluoride “ `appears to have the potential to initiate or promote cancers’ “ (145). 

 The endrocrine system involves glands that secret hormones; e.g., the thyroid, parathyroid, adrenal, and pineal glands.  The NRC panel noted that fluoride “ `affects normal endocrine function or response’ “ both directly and indirectly and expressed concern about fluoride’s impact on the thyroid gland (158).    

 Connett et al point to the incomprehensible lack of research on fluoride’s impact on the thyroid and note the need to study fluoride’s impact on the development of goiter in the thyroid; the impact of fluoride on a normal or underactive thyroid, given that it “calms an overactive thyroid”; and  fluoride’s relationship to the development of hypothyroidism with its attendant problems of “depression, fatigue, weight gain, muscle and joint pain, increased cholesterol levels, and heart disease” (157-165). 

 The NRC panel noted that “`any agent that affects pineal function could affect human health in a variety of ways, including effects on sexual maturation, calcium metabolism, parathyroid function, postmenopausal osteoporosis, cancer and psychiatric disease’” (165-166).

 With regard to diabetes, the NRC panel determined that fluoride exposure “`appears to bring about increases in blood glucose or impaired tolerance in some individuals and to increase the severity of some types of diabetes.’ “ The panel noted that since diabetics often drink more water, they will have higher fluoride intakes (166-167).

 Connett et al explain that as the kidneys concentrate fluoride, they are “particularly at risk” (198).  The NRC report noted that “ `the effect of low doses of fluoride on kidney and liver enzyme functions in humans needs to be carefully documented’ “ (197).  Connett et al note that EPA literature about pesticide poisoning warns that ingested fluorides have “ `a corrosive effect on the epithelial lining of the gastrointestinal tract’” (132).  Other areas of needed further study are the hepatic (liver), immune, and reproductive systems (198).   

 Part 3 will discuss what we can do about fluoridated water.