Fluoride: Friend or Foe?
Earlier this month, Pinellas County in Florida banned fluoride from its drinking supply, mostly due to rising concerns about the adverse health effects of forced fluoride consumption.
The Fluoride Action Network has collected over 3,600 signatures from medical professionals in a Statement Calling For An End to Water Fluoridation. In it, they claim that fluoride has a “statistically significant association with a wide range of adverse effects. These include an increased risk of bone fractures, decreased thyroid function, lowered IQ, arthritic-like conditions, dental fluorosis, and possibly osteosarcoma.”
While the majority of people do not drink enough water to acquire high levels of fluoride, there are still many people who do take in a level of fluoride associated with these adverse effects: small children, above average water drinkers, diabetics, people with poor kidney function and other vulnerable sub-groups.
Effects of Fluoride
Studies on rats fed water containing 1ppm fluoride had an increased uptake of aluminum into the brain, with formation of beta-amyloid plaques, which is a classic marker of Alzheimer’s disease pathology in humans.
Fluoride exposure comes from other sources as well. Considering all of this, there are many people who are vulnerable to excess fluoride exposure, which means there is no margin of safety against these adverse effects.
In 2005, the CDC reported that 32% of American children have dental fluorosis – an abnormal discoloration and mottling of the tooth enamel. This is irreversible and sometimes the condition is caused by fluoride. The occurrence of dental fluorosis has increased over the past 50 years, up from 10% in 1950.
The American Dental Association changed its policy in 2006 to recommend that water used for infant formula be “purified, distilled, deionized, demineralized, or produced through reverse osmosis”, clearly excluding the use of fluoridated tap water. This policy change was meant to reduce the risk of dental fluorosis, but clearly places an unnecessary burden on low-income families.
Pinellas County and Fluoride
Dentists from the Pinellas County Health Department supported the use of fluoride in tap water, claiming that it reduced the incidence of tooth decay in their patients, and would help to reduce the costs of community dental care.
At the same time, Pinellas County’s ban on fluoride has saved them over $200,000 a year in chemical treatments.
It was not a smooth debate. After 3 hours of incendiary discussion, the County Commission voted 4-3 to ban fluoride. Some felt it was a step backwards, while others lauded it as a step towards freedom.
Fluoridation of water is often seen as forced medicine. The FAN cites that ingesting fluoride does not necessary to prevent tooth decay, only exposure to teeth prevents tooth decay. Ingesting fluoride is actually what encourages development of adverse effects. Additionally, the FAN claims industrial waste chemicals are used to make the fluoride used in tap water treatments.
On the other hand, the ADHA cites that fluoridated water has helped reduce tooth decay by 50-80% since World War II.
What do you think? Do you support fluoridated water? Why or why not?
[CC Image by LuluP via Flickr]