Fluoride Action Network

healtheffects-overview

Arthritis

"If I was an arthritic individual, I would be eliminating every possible source of fluoride exposure that I could think of." (Phyllis Mullenix, PhD, Toxicologist)

Arthritis

Current evidence strongly indicates that some people diagnosed with “arthritis” are in fact suffering from low-grade fluoride poisoning.

Joint pain and stiffness are well known symptoms of excessive fluoride intake. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, too much fluoride causes “chronic joint pain” and “arthritic symptoms.” (DHHS 1991). U.S. health authorities have long dismissed the relevance of this by insisting that fluoride only causes arthritic symptoms in patients with advanced forms of skeletal fluorosis, a bone disease caused by fluoride. Modern research clearly shows, however, that fluoride-induced joint pains can occur in the absence of obvious skeletal fluorosis. This makes fluoride’s effects on joints extremely difficult to differentiate from common forms of arthritis. In fact, research has found that fluoride can be a direct cause of osteoarthritis, with or without the presence of classic skeletal fluorosis. (Bao 2003; Savas 2001; Tartatovskaya 1995; Czerwinski 1988; Chen 1988).

In cases where fluoride is the cause of a person’s arthritic problems, reduction in daily fluoride intake for a period of several weeks or months can eliminate the symptoms in the absence of medical treatment. Correct diagnosis is thus critical to effective recovery.

Fluoride causes arthritis in absence of obvious skeletal fluorosis

Chronic fluoride exposure can cause a bone disease known as skeletal fluorosis. In the classic type of skeletal fluorosis, the lower spine and pelvis develop a hyper-dense bone condition known as osteosclerosis. U.S. health authorities have long ascribed to the view that this spinal osteosclerosis will be evident on x-ray if a person’s joint pains are caused by fluoride. When spinal osteosclerosis is absent, therefore, doctors have traditionally  dismissed the possibility that a patient’s joint pain could be caused by fluoride.

Research, however, has now repeatedly shown that fluoride can cause joint pain and stiffness, including frank osteoarthritis, before bone changes in the spine are detectable on x-ray. The traditional criteria for diagnosing skeletal fluorosis thus results in people with fluoride-induced joint problems being misdiagnosed as suffering from “arthritis.” The extent of this misdiagnosis remains unknown.

The doses that cause fluoride-arthritis remain poorly understood

According to U.S. health authorities, a daily dose of 10 mg of fluoride for over 10 years is sufficient to cause “crippling skeletal fluorosis.” (NRC 1993). Since crippling skeletal fluorosis represents the most severe stage of the disease (a stage where bone changes are readily detectable in the spine), common sense alone should indicate that earlier stages of fluorosis can be produced by doses lower than 10 mg/day. No systematic research, however, has been conducted in the United States or any other fluoridating country to determine how low the arthritic dose might be, and how this dose varies based on an individual’s age, nutritional status, health status, and exposure to repetititve stress.

Current data indicates that doses as low as 6 mg/day can cause arthritic symptoms

Although there has been a lack of systematic research (in western countries), a case study published in The Lancet found that daily doses of 6 to 9 mg per day were sufficient to cause arthritis in an avid tea-drinker. (Cook 1971). The subject of the study, an English woman with a 25-year history of debilitating arthritis, experienced complete relief in her symptoms within 6 months of stopping her tea consumption. In light of the woman’s recovery, the author concluded that “some cases of pain diagnosed as rheumatism or arthritis may be due to subclinical fluorosis which is not radiologically demonstrable.”

More recent, more comprehensive, research from China confirms that doses lower than 10 mg/day can cause early stages of fluorosis as well as osteoarthritis. In 2000, a group of Chinese health agencies conducted a large-scale study to determine the daily doses of fluoride that cause the various phases of fluorosis. (Experts Group 2000). They found that doses of 6.2 to 6.6 mg/day were consistently sufficient to produce x-ray evidence of skeletal fluorosis which is significant since fluoride can cause chronic joint pain prior to the development of x-ray changes. It stands to reason, therefore, that doses less than 6 mg/day may cause arthritic symptoms.

Another large-scale study from China recently investigated whether the incidence of osteoarthritic symptoms rates in a population are increased in areas with elevated fluoride levels. (Ge 2006). After examining over 7,000 individuals from six regions, the authors found that the rate of osteoarthritis was significantly increased at water fluoride levels of just 1.7 ppm — a concentration that would be associated with daily doses in the 5 to 6 mg/day range. (Ge 2006) The following figure displays the rate of pain and rigidity in the knee and vertebrae that the study found:

Relevance to Water Fluoridation

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has estimated that adults living in fluoridated communities routinely ingest between 1.6 and 6.6 mg of fluoride per day. (DHHS 1991). In other words, the doses that many American adults routinely ingest overlap the doses that modern research indicates can cause arthritic symptoms and the early stages of skeletal fluorosis.

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