Fluoride Action Network

Water Fluoridation

"The addition of fluoride to water supplies violates modern pharmacological principles." Dr. ARVID CARLSSON (Nobel Laureate in Medicine/Physiology, 2000).

Medical Ethics

Unlike all other water treatment processes, fluoridation does not treat the water itself, but the person consuming it. The Food & Drug Administration accepts that fluoride is a drug, not a nutrient, when used to prevent disease. By definition, therefore, fluoridating water is a form of mass medication. This is why most western European nations have rejected the practice — because, in their view, the public water supply is not an appropriate place to be adding drugs.

Fluoridation – or any practice that uses the public water supply as a vehicle to deliver medicine – violates medical ethics in several important ways:

  • It deprives the individual of his or her right to informed consent to medication.
  • It is approved and delivered by people without medical qualifications.
  • It is delivered to everyone regardless of age, health or nutritional status, without individual oversight by a doctor and without control of dose.
  • The safety and effectiveness of fluoridated water has never been demonstrated by randomized controlled trials–the gold standard study that is now generally required before a drug can enter the market.

Fluoridation Violates the Bedrock Principle of Informed Consent

No doctor can force a patient to take a particular medicine. As explained by the American Medical Association, the doctor must inform the patient of the medicine’s benefits, side effects, and alternatives and then allow the patient to decide whether to take the medicine or not. With water fluoridation, health boards, city councils, and state legislatures simply tell the individual that fluoridated water is good for them and then proceed to add it to their drinking water, irrespective of their consent. Fluoridation us allows government bodies the right to do to everyone what an individual doctor is prohibited from doing doing to anyone.

Fluoridation Is an Outdated “One Size Fits All” Approach to Medicine

In modern pharmacology, it is well known that individuals respond very differently to the same dose of a given drug. Thus, the dose of a drug that is safe for person A, may be toxic for person B. This same pattern applies to fluoride as well, as some people in society are known to be particularly vulnerable to fluoride’s toxic effects. Nevertheless, water  fluoridation is based on the premise that the same dose of a medicine can be good for everybody, irrespective of their age, health, and nutritional status. Adding fluoride to water thus forces it on everyone in the community, including:

  • bottle-fed babies (despite recommendations by many dental researchers that infants should not consume fluoridated water);
  • individuals with poor kidney function (despite their impaired ability to excrete fluoride and their heightened risk for fluoride-induced bone damage);
  • individuals with iodine deficiency (despite compelling research showing that they can suffer amplified neurological damage from low levels of fluoride exposure)
  • individuals with deficiencies of calcium, vitamin C, and/or vitamin D (despite the well-documented fact that fluoride’s toxic effects on bone tissue are amplified in these individuals);
  • individuals who drink large quantities of water, including athletes, manual laborers, and those with polydipsia.

There is no other drug on the market that is applied so recklessly.

Fluoridation Delivers Fluoride for a Lifetime Without Oversight of a Doctor.

There is a reason that society requires prescription drugs to be dispensed by a doctor or dentist: if there are unexpected side effects or the patient is particularly sensitive to the drug in question, the doctor overseeing the patient can intervene and correct the problem. There is no such oversight with water fluoridation. There is no systematic or comprehensive program to track the level of fluoride building up in people’s tissues, or to monitor for side effects that may be occurring (e.g., routine urine and blood tests do not measure fluoride). Doctors are not trained at medical school to recognize the side effects of fluoride (if anything they are taught there are none). Even when people are suffering from overt crippling forms of skeletal fluorosis (fluoride poisoning of the bone), it can take years of incorrect diagnoses and failed therapies to receive a correct diagnosis.

Fluoridation Provides an Uncontrolled Dose

Although water departments can generally control the concentration of fluoride being added to water, they cannot control the dose that individuals receive. This is because the dose depends on two factors beyond the water department’s control: (a) the water drinker’s weight and (b) the water drinker’s thirst. The less an individual weighs, the greater the dose (by body weight) they will receive for each glass of water consumed, and the more an individual drinks (and some people, including athletes and manual laborers, drink a lot), the more fluoride they will receive.

The uncontrolled dose that water fluoridation delivers stands in stark contrast to prescription drugs. When a doctor prescribes a drug he or she always specifies the daily dose very carefully. Even in the same patient, the dose is subject to revision, depending on the patient’s response. No such individual tailoring occurs with water fluoridation.

Fluoridation Has Never Been Proven Safe/Effective by Randomized Controlled Trials

Randomized controlled trials (RCT) are the gold standard for proving whether a drug is truly safe and effective and are thus typically require before a government licensing body will allow the drug to enter the market. Although fluoridation has been going on for over 60 years, and although fluoridated water is now consumed by over 180 million Americans on a daily basis, there has never been a single randomized controlled trial to determine the safety and effectiveness of either fluoridated water or fluoride supplements. This may explain why the Food & Drug Administration still considers fluoride supplements as an unapproved new drug, despite over 50 years of dentists and pediatricians prescribing them to their patients. Keep this in mind the next time you hear a dentist or city councilor state that “thousands of studies” prove fluoridation is “safe and effective.”

Fluoridation Amounts to a Vast Human Experiment

Water fluoridation amounts to a vast, poorly conducted, human experiment. Many government reviews have acknowledged that there remain many unanswered questions about fluoride’s toxicity and the short-term and long-term health effects that may be caused by chronic exposure to fluoridated water. Despite these acknowledgments, many basic – and obvious – health studies have yet to be carried out in fluoridated countries.

The following, for example, are some of the many recommendations that the prestigious National Research Council made in 2006 after reviewing the literature on fluoride toxicity for over 3 years:

“Fluoride should be included in nationwide biomonitoring surveys and nutritional studies; in particular, analysis of fluoride in blood and urine samples taken in these surveys would be valuable.” p.11

“Carefully conducted studies of exposure to fluoride and emerging health parameters of interest (e.g., endocrine effects and brain function) should be performed in populations in the United States exposed to various concentrations of fluoride.” p.12

“More research is needed to clarify fluoride’s biochemical effects on the brain.” p.222

“The possibility has been raised by the studies conducted in China that fluoride can lower intellectual abilities. Thus, studies of populations exposed to different concentrations of fluoride in drinking water should include measurements of reasoning ability, problem solving, IQ, and short- and long-term memory.” p.223

“Studies of populations exposed to different concentrations of fluoride should be undertaken to evaluate neurochemical changes that may be associated with dementia. Consideration should be given to assessing effects from chronic exposure, effects that might be delayed or occur late-in-life, and individual susceptibility.” p.223

“The effects of fluoride on various aspects of endocrine function should be examined particularly with respect to a possible role in the development of several diseases or mental states in the United States. Major areas for investigation include the following: * thyroid disease (especially in light of decreasing iodine intake by the U.S. population); * nutritional (calcium-deficiency) rickets; * calcium metabolism (including measurements of both calcitonin and PTH); * pineal function (including, but not limited to, melatonin production); and * development of glucose intolerance and diabetes.” p.267

As the Chairman of the NRC Review, Dr. John Doull, noted:

“What the committee found is that we’ve gone with the status quo regarding fluoride for many years—for too long, really—and now we need to take a fresh look. In the scientific community, people tend to think this is settled. I mean, when the U.S. surgeon general comes out and says this is one of the 10 greatest achievements of the 20th century, that’s a hard hurdle to get over. But when we looked at the studies that have been done, we found that many of these questions are unsettled and we have much less information than we should, considering how long this [fluoridation] has been going on. I think that’s why fluoridation is still being challenged so many years after it began. In the face of ignorance, controversy is rampant.”

And thus the experiment continues, one drip of water at a time.

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