Fluoridation: A Statement in Favor

Author says that artificial fluoridation is inexpensive, has no demonstrated risk, and offers considerable financial, medical, and dental benefits.

OPINION – August 27, 2012 -- My personal experience with fluoridation began by growing up in Phoenix, Arizona, an area with naturally high fluoride. I noticed two consequences. First, my teeth and those of the kids I grew up with now have very few cavities. Second, almost all of us vote Republican. Both might be coincidental, however.

Like Mr. North, I too was an avid proponent of artificially fluoridated drinking water. His thoughtful, well-researched, and dispassionate analysis caused me to review his references and rethink my position. After doing so, I remain an avid proponent of artificially fluoridated drinking water. Here’s why.

1. There is no evidence any citizen has been harmed by artificially fluoridated drinking water.

We certainly have sufficient exposure. About 162 million Americans drink artificially fluoridated water. Over 40 of our largest cities fluoridate their drinking water. Over 60% of Americans drink water with detectable levels of fluoride, either natural or artificial. We have over 60 years of exposure. We still await a report of morbidity or mortality.

2. Benefits have been demonstrated.

Many studies conclude artificially fluoridated drinking water reduces the number, cost, and medical sequelae of dental cavities. A minority conclude it may not make a difference. Several professional organizations with no professional or financial interests in worsening the population’s dental health recommend artificially fluoridated drinking water. These organizations include the American Dental Association, American Medical Association, and Health Share of Oregon (the tri-county area’s largest Coordinated Care Organization). The scientific community may be divided, but organizations which experience the sequelae of poor dental health are not.

3. The report from the National Academy of Science (NAS) examined naturally fluoridated water whose fluoride levels exceed the recommended artificial level three to eight-fold.

The NAS concluded the current maximal contaminant level of 4 mg/L recommended by the FDA for naturally fluoridated water was not low enough. Their findings apply only to naturally fluoridated water, not to artificially fluoridated water. In fact, the NAS took care the evidence they considered not be applied to artificially fluoridated water: “The committee did not evaluate the risks or benefits of the lower fluoride concentrations (0.7 to 1.2 mg/L) used in water fluoridation. Therefore, the committee’s conclusions regarding the potential for adverse effects from fluoride at 2 to 4 mg/L in drinking water do not apply at the lower water fluoride levels commonly experienced by most U.S. citizens.”

The Chinese studies of the association between fluoride and IQ compared children drinking naturally fluoridated water with high levels (2.5 to 4 mg/L) to those drinking water with lower
levels (0.18 to 0.76 mg/L). This latter level is slightly lower than the target level for artificially fluoridated water in the US. The NAS did not find this association convincing. “Without detailed information about the testing conditions and the tests themselves, the committee was unable to assess the strength of the studies.” If nothing else, these studies suggest our recommended levels of artificially fluoridated water may be safe.

4. There is no evidence that water in cities with artificially fluoridation have higher levels of arsenic or lead than cities that don’t.

Fears that adding fluoride to drinking water will increase levels of other chemicals have not been validated.

Given this evidence, I respectfully disagree with Mr. North’s conclusion. Artificial fluoridation is inexpensive, has no demonstrated risk, and offers considerable financial, medical, and dental benefits.

As Mr. North noted, opposition and support for artificial fluoridation does not fall along traditional fault lines. What a curious association between liberal and conservative organizations. Does anyone remember the psychotic General Jack D. Ripper in “Dr. Strangelove”?

“Fluoridation is the most monstrously conceived and dangerous communist plot we have ever had to face... A foreign substance is introduced into our precious bodily fluids without the knowledge of the individual. Mandrake, have you ever seen a Commie drink a glass of water?

Of course, General Ripper may have been right all along.

References:

In addition to Mr. North’s excellent documentation, I found these sites helpful.

Engineering and Administrative Recommendations for Water Fluoridation, http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/00039178.htm

http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factshee/Risk/fluoridated-water

Wall Street Journal, March 23, 2006. Government Panel Raises Concern About Fluoride. By Sharon Begley. http://www.healthy.net/scr/News.aspx?Id=8293

The National Academy of Science Report, 2006. http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=11571&page=205

Dr. Samuel Metz is an anesthesiologist working at multiple sites in the Willamette Valley. He lives in Portland with his wife and daughter, and is member of Mad As Hell Doctors, Physicians for a National Health Program, and Health Care for All Oregon, all of which advocate for publicly funded universal health care.

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Comments

Here's some evidence of people harmed by fluoride PHYSICIANS' DESK REFERENCE - Allergy/Hypersensitivity to Fluoride: "In hypersensitive individuals, fluorides occasionally cause skin eruptions such as atopic dermatitis, eczema or urticaria. Gastric distress, headache and weakness have also been reported. These hypersensitivity reactions usually disappear promptly after discontinuation of the fluoride." SOURCE: PHYSICIANS' DESK REFERENCE, 1994, 48th Edition, p. 2335-6. “There are a few case reports of GI upset in subjects exposed to drinking water fluoridated at 1 mg/L. Those effects were observed in only a small number of cases, which suggest hypersensitivity. ” SOURCE: National Research Council. (2006). Fluoride in Drinking Water: A Scientific Review of EPA's Standards. National Academies Press, Washington D.C. p250. Estimated Incidence - Allergy/Hypersensitivity to Fluoride: "One percent of our cases reacted adversely to the fluoride. By the use of placebos, it was definitely established that the fluoride and not the binder was the causative agent. These reactions, occurring in gravid women and in children of all ages in the study group affected the dermatologic, gastro-intestinal and neurological systems. Eczema, atopic dermatitis, urticaria, epigastric distress, emesis, and headache have all occurred with the use of fluoride and disappeared upon the use of placebo tablets, only to recur when the fluoride tablet was, unknowingly to the patient, given again. When adverse reactions occur, the therapy can be readily discontinued and the patient or parent advised of the fact that sensitivity exists and the element is to be avoided as much as possible." SOURCE: Feltman R, Kosel G. (1961). Prenatal and postnatal ingestion of fluorides - Fourteen years of investigation - Final report. Journal of Dental Medicine 16: 190-99. Effect of Water Fluoridation - Skin Problems: Following the termination of water fluoridation, "the significant decrease in the number of other skin rashes leaves room for speculation, seeming to favor the view that a small segment of the population may have some kind of intolerance to fluoride. This group of people should be studied further. The most frequently reported symptoms that disappeared from the time of actual to known discontinuation of fluoridation seemed to be itching and dryness of the skin." SOURCE: Lamberg M, Hausen H, Vartiainen T. (1997). Symptoms experienced during periods of actual and supposed water fluoridation. Community Dentistry & Oral Epidemiology 25(4):291-5. EXCERPT - html: Feltman R. (1956). Prenatal and postnatal ingestion of fluoride salts: A progress report. Dental Digest 62: 353-357.

Anyone believing they are allergic to 0.7 ppm fluoride should go directly to the OHSU Immunology department. Your case is so incredibly rare that no satisfactorily documented cases have ever been published. You owe it to furthering medical science for your case report to appear in a peer-reviewed medical journal. There is no scientific evidence of any adverse effect on immunity from fluoridation, nor have there been any confirmed reports of allergic reaction. There are no confirmed cases of any positive skin testing in human or animal models. A committee of the National Academy of Sciences evaluated clinical reports of possible allergic responses to fluoride and reported: "The reservation in accepting (claims of allergic reaction) at face value is the lack of similar reports in much larger numbers of people who have been exposed to considerably more fluoride than was involved in the original observations." The World Health Organization also judged these cases to represent a variety of unrelated conditions and found no evidence of allergic reactions to fluoride. Another 1996 review of the literature on fluoride and white cell function concluded that there is no evidence of any harmful effect on immunity nor any confirmed reports of allergic reactions. This claim is sadly familiar. Someone, often with an illness, comes to believe that a disease (kidney, thyroid, cancer, fractures, allergy, inflammatory conditions, etc etc) is related to community water fluoridation (CWF) and campaigns to end the practice. That none of the national, regional nor local endocrinologists (thyroid), nephrologists (kidney), orthopedists (fractures), or immunologists (inflammation and allergy) believe there to be any connection whatsoever doesn't count for much. Often as not there are specific statements by professional societies of specialists that the advocate is mistaken. These terribly mistaken beliefs are harming Portland's oral health, especially the children.

There are three types of fluoride and a big difference between them. First it calcium fluoride, the kind that occurs naturally in water, that the body can tolerate in small doses. Second is sodium fluoride, the pharmaceutical version, which builds up in the body. And third is fluorosilicic acid, the toxic waste that's used to artificially fluoridate water, that comes with an assortment of heavy metals at no additional charge. Would the good doctor care to comment on those?

There are actually three possible water additive chemicals: sodium fluoride, sodium fluorosilicate and fluorosilicic acid also correctly called hexafluorosilicic acid (HFSA). Regardless of the fluoride water additive chosen, the fluoride ion which prevents cavities is exactly (repeat exactly) the same as fluoride ions found in water naturally. The original material splits. That process is called dissociation. In the case of both Calcium fluoride (the usual source of naturally occurring fluoride) & the three possible water additives, the negatively charged fluoride ion in water completely separates from the other part of the compound The non-fluoride part of the original substances are all naturally occurring substances: Ca++, Na+ & SiO2 . . calcium ions, sodium & silicon dioxide. Sodium is one of the elements in common table salt. The chemical compound silicon dioxide, also known as silica, is most commonly found in nature as sand or quartz, as well as in plant cell walls. Hardly evil stuff The chemical process for calcium & sodium fluoride is simple dissociation, for the fluorosilicates, hydrolysis The study which shows that the fluorosilicates completely dissociates is: Reexamination of hexafluorosilicate hydrolysis by 19F NMR & pH measurement. Environ. Sci. Technol Finney WF, et al Sadly many find the mistaken belief that somehow fluoride ions from water additives are different & carry a sort of original sin from their parent chemicals convincing This idea, & many like it, win elections about half the time. The public health professionals are the experts, both voters should seek their advice. Thankfully, it appears that Portland's City Commission are doing that.

The best scientific information on fluoridation can be found in Dr. Paul Connett's book, "The Case Against Fluoride," published last year. It contains over 1200 peer reviewed studies (80 pages) and sound scientific reasoning showing the ineffectiveness and dangers to health from fluoride. Also see his very informative site here (www.fluoridealert.org). You will see a petition at this site signed by 4200 professionals, including hundreds of dentists, hundreds of doctors, and other medical researchers calling on governments everywhere to stop fluoridation; also scientific evidence to show that it causes cancer, thyroid & pineal gland damage, broken hips from brittle bones, lowered IQ, kidney disease, and other serious health problems.