Article by Dr. Deryck D. Pattron, Ph.D
Fluoride is common household name. It is found in drinking water, toothpaste, mouth washes, household chemicals and cosmetics to name a few. Recent research has shown that fluoride may actually be dangerous to human health and well being. Some researchers have reported no significant difference between the use of fluoridated and non-fluoridated water with regards to reduction in tooth decay. In addition, fluoride is associated with cancer, tumor formation, skeletal fluorosis, accelerated aging and a whole range of medical conditions. It is highly questionable and of great public health concern whether the minuscule health benefits if any derived from the use of fluoride in drinking water and in other products out weights the much larger negative health effects.
The Problem:Fluoride has been used as an important tooth-decay fighting chemical found in water, mouth washes and toothpaste. Recently, the FDA has approved the claim on bottled water containing fluoride at a concentration of 0.6 mg to 1.0 mg per liter to include the statement that “drinking fluoridated water may reduce the risk of tooth decay”. But how safe is fluoride in drinking water? What is the possible health risks associated with the use of fluoride? And how effective is fluoride in preventing tooth decay? These unanswered questions further highlight the need for scientifically sound information on the possible relationship between fluoride and potential health risks.
Centers for Disease Control (CDC) policy on fluoridated tap water supports the view that widespread use of fluoride has been a major factor in the decline in the prevalence and severity of tooth decay. This policy is in accordance with the UK Food Standards Agency and the FDA findings that fluoridated water may reduce tooth decay. But, these findings have been questioned recently and there now exist a growing body of information/evidence that suggest that fluoride use may in fact be dangerous to human health and does not significantly reduce tooth decay in controlled studies.
The purpose of the present study is to educate and to inform the public and consumers about the health significance with particular reference to health risks associated with the use of fluoride in drinking water and other fluoride containing products.
Agencies/bodies that provided evidence against fluoride use are:
The National Institute of Environmental and Health in 1990 found that fluoride causes cancer.
US Environmental Protection Agency during 1989-1993 found that fluoride does not reduce tooth decay and may cause cancer.
The American Chemical Society in 1988 questioned the safety and effectiveness of fluoridation.
The New England Journal of Medicine in 1990 reported the fluoride treatment of osteoporosis patients resulted in higher hip facture rates.
Clinical Toxicology in 1984 list fluoride as being more poisonous than lead, but slightly less than arsenic.
US CDC and The Safe Water Foundation estimated 30,000 to 50,000 deaths per year for people who consume at least 1 p.p.m. of fluoride in drinking water.
The use of fluoride has been associated with the following health conditions:
A greater incidence of hip fracture.
Browning of teeth.
Joint and hip pain.
Premature hardening of arteries.
Loss of appetite.
Loss of sex drive.
Increased rate of stillbirth.
Poor rate of healing and/or repair.
Symptoms of fluoride intoxication according to the United States Pharmacopoeia:
Stiffness in joints.
Brown/black discoloration of teeth.
Pathophysiology of fluoride:
Fluoride is a toxin and its mode of action occurs at the both cellular and molecular level causing significant enzyme inhibition involved in biochemical, cellular and molecular processes. This serves to initiate collagen breakdown, causing immense genetic damage, and disruption of the immune system.
Fluoride at a concentration of 1 p.p.m in drinking water can lead to the generation of highly destructive free radicals such as superoxide radicals that can damage cell membranes and lead to oxidative stress resulting in a cascade of events that may prevent the migration of white blood cells into infected areas, thus interfering with phagocytosis and compromising cellular defense mechanisms. These changes lead to increased susceptibility to infections and other abnormal changes in the body. Damage to collagen, one of the body’s main structural proteins can form altered proteinaceous structures that can attract the body’s own white blood cells thus causing an autoimmune response. This process uses up the immune resources of the body and further adds to stress causing accelerated premature aging and death.
Fluoride attacks DNA or DNA repair enzymes thus reducing the rate of repair and increases the likelihood of mutations in cells, appearance of cancer, tumors, and birth defects and may even shorten life expectancy.
Fluoride is a toxic chemical that has been used in many health care products. But, what is the health risk associated with the use of such products? Research has shown that chronic use of fluoride may cause demineralization of bone, browning of teeth, tumors, cancers and death. The use of fluoride in drinking water or bottled water should be re-considered in light of existing evidence. Fluoride is toxic and can significantly affect health and well being in susceptible individuals. Consumers and the general public should always adopt the precautionary principle that states that if there is likelihood that something can be dangerous to health, then it should be avoided at all cost, until proven otherwise.
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About the Author
Dr. Pattron is a Public Health Scientist and Scholar.