Hard to Swallow
What drug is taken by more Americans than any other drug?
You might guess cholesterol-lowering statins, but you’d be wrong. Statins are only used by about 13 million. That’s a drop in the bucket.
You might guess acetaminophen or aspirin, but you’d be wrong.
Millions of people use these over-the-counter analgesics every day, but that’s nothing compared to American’s number one drug: fluoride.
Most of us have been taking a daily dose of fluoridated tap water since birth. About two- thirds of all U.S. water supplies are fluoridated, and most of those supplies are in major population areas.
According to a recent report in Scientific American, people who live fluoride-free are probably healthier than the rest of us. And ironically, their teeth might be in better shape too.
Over doing it
A company called DS Waters manufactures a product called Nursery – a steam distilled, purified bottled water for babies and infants. And when they’ve finished creating this pristine water what do they do? They add fluoride.
That’s like manufacturing a pure, unadulterated ointment, and then packing a fly into every jar.
Here are some of the key revelations from the Scientific American report on fluoride:
- Over-consumption of fluoride is common – in addition to our tap water, fluoride is added to toothpaste, mouthwash, medications, beverages, and even some foods
- Over-consumption of fluoride often causes dental fluorosis – a discoloring or pitting of the teeth
- A 16-year study that tracked 700 children showed that mild fluorosis was 50 percent more likely among children who lived in fluoridated areas compared to children who didn’t drink fluoridated tap water.
- Chinese studies have linked high fluoride intake with lower I.Q.
- Studies with lab animals reveal that high fluoride intake may increase bone fracture risk
- A National Research Council (NRC) committee reviewed hundreds of fluoride studies and concluded that fluoride intake can alter endocrine function, especially in the thyroid
That last item is arguably the most disturbing. The thyroid produces hormones that regulate metabolism and growth. The chair of the NRC committee told Dan Fagin, the author of the Scientific American piece, “The thyroid changes do worry me.”
Benefits? Not so much
Some of the Scientific American revelations are not surprising – not to e-Alert readers anyway.
Three years ago I told you about Harvard research in which data showed that boys who drink fluoridated water between the ages of five and 10 may have an increased risk of bone cancer. And William Campbell Douglass II, M.D., reports that several osteoporosis studies have linked hip fracture risk to high fluoride intake. In addition, Dr. Campbell reports that animal trials have shown that fluoride enhances the brain’s absorption of aluminum, which increases Alzheimer’s risk.
But just try to tell your dentist that fluoride is a potential toxin. He’ll probably insist that the risks are overblown, while the dental benefits are irrefutable. And that’s when you can offer these two points:
1) The largest study ever conducted on fluoridation and oral health included more than 39,000 children in 84 locations throughout the U.S. Results showed no statistical difference in tooth decay rates between fluoridated and non-fluoridated communities.
2) Tooth decay trends tracked by the World Health Organization from 1970 to 2002 show that the incidence of decayed, missing, or filled teeth has been steadily in decline with each passing year in the U.S., France, Germany, Japan, Italy, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway, The Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Austria, Belgium, Portugal, Iceland, and Greece. Only one of these countries adds fluoride to the public water supply: the U.S.
In his article, Dan Fagin notes that scientific attitudes toward fluoridation may be starting to shift. I hope he’s right. It’s a shift long overdue.
“Second Thoughts on Fluoride” Dan Fagin, Scientific American, January 2008, sciam.com