In 2001, researchers at the University of Tokyo published findings in the Journal of Epidemiology which reported a significant association between water fluoridation and cancer. Researchers undertook detailed statistical analysis of cancer incidence rates and water fluoridation in the USA, comparing fluoridated and non-fluoridated states. Of the 36 cancer sites in males and females examined, 23 (69 per cent) were significantly associated with water fluoridation. The reason given by the authors for the higher cancer incidence rates in fluoridated communities was the extended presence of fluoride in plasma and urine and the infusion of fluoride into the brain and other organs.
Research has demonstrated that exposure to fluoride comparable to those experienced by individuals who live in fluoridated communities results in a 15- to 20-fold increase in plasma fluoride levels. Once in the body, fluoride accumulates to very high levels over one’s lifetime. And the highest concentrations have been found in the human pineal gland.
The pineal gland is of enormous importance to protecting human health as it produces melatonin, a powerful antioxidant that protects the body from cancer, strengthens the immune system, protects against inflammatory disease, cardiovascular disease, psychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders and sudden infant death syndrome and enhances neurodevelopment in infants.
Remarkably, only one study has ever been undertaken to investigate the effects of fluoride on melatonin production in the pineal gland. This study demonstrated that fluoride exposure and accumulation in the pineal gland inhibits melatonin production.
The United States National Academies of Medicine and Sciences stated in their comprehensive report on fluoride published in 2006 that the evidence suggests “that fluoride is likely to cause decreased melatonin production and to have other effects on normal pineal function, which in turn could contribute to a variety of effects in humans”. This perhaps explains the high incidence and mortality rate from these conditions in the Republic of Ireland.
Apart from melatonin, the principal mechanisms by which fluoride contributes to increased cancer risk are through its actions in increasing the production of G proteins, free radicals, reactive oxygen species and oxidative stress.
All of these are acknowledged to contribute to several diseases including cancer, cardiovascular diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, neuropsychiatry disorders such as alcoholism and schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, asthma and endocrine disorders.
Fluoride also promotes the production of haptoglobin, calcitonin and insulin-like growth factor and inhibits the hydrolysis of acid phosphatase, resulting in elevated concentrations of the enzyme.
Independently each of these factors has been identified as having a causal role in many cancers including prostate cancer. It is notable, therefore, that a major international study published in 2007 reported that the incidence of prostate cancer in the Republic was the highest of all 30 European countries, with incidence rates 75 per cent above the European Union average.
The established scientific facts clearly demonstrate that cancer incidence in the Republic is far greater than either non-fluoridated Northern Ireland or mainland Europe. According to the All-Ireland Cancer Registry (2011) the risk of developing many of the cancers including non-melanoma skin cancer, melanoma, leukaemia, urinary bladder, prostate, pancreas, cervix, ovarian, oesophagus and brain/central nervous system cancers was significantly higher in the Republic.
Similarly a 2009 study found that only two types of cancer, male lung cancer and cancer of the uterus, were higher in Northern Ireland than in the Republic.
For many cancers such as kidney and bladder, and leukaemia, the incidence has been increasing at an alarming rate yearly in the Republic, while no increases have been reported in Northern Ireland.
In mainland Europe where fluoridation of water is not practised, largely due to concerns regarding the long-term health implications, the natural fluoride concentration present in drinking water is very low, generally between 0.02 and 0.3 ppm – substantially below the artificially created level present in the Republic (0.6-0.8ppm).
According to the World Health Organisation the cancer incidence in the Republic is 780 per 100,000 compared to the mean cancer incidence for the entire European region of 380 per 100,000. Furthermore, data from Globocan 2008 shows that in the most fluoridated countries internationally including the Republic of Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, United States, Canada and Israel the incidence of cancers, excluding non-melanoma skin cancers, is significantly above the European and worldwide global averages.
I believe everyone should have the right to choose if they wish to ingest a harmful toxin that can clearly contribute to disease.
This is not possible, however, when you live in a country where the entire public water supply, and all food products prepared with that water, are contaminated by fluoride.
Declan Waugh is an environmental scientist and fluoride researcher