Have you ever wondered why we need to have fluoride in drinking water when there is already fluoride in our toothpaste?
The October 2010 issue of the journal of the American Dental Association has confirmed that infants fed with formula milk prepared from fluoridated water run a greater risk of fluorosis (mottling and discolouration of teeth enamel).
On the same subject, another book published in September this year – The Case Against Fluoride by Paul Connett, James Beck and HS Micklem argues forcefully against the practice of adding fluoride to drinking water supplies.
Among the countries which fluoridate their water supplies are Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Ireland, Malaysia, Singapore, USA and Vietnam. Most parts of Europe have stayed away from the practice. The amount added varies from 0.6 to 1.2 mg/l.
Most dental associations, which endorse fluoridation of water supplies say it is a safe, low-cost way to prevent tooth decay, particularly amongst cavity-prone children.
But the new book quotes WHO statistics to indicate that the rates of tooth-decays in twelve-year olds have been coming down in non-fluoridated countries as fast as in fluoridated ones mainly because of rising income levels and better dental hygiene. “Meanwhile, the scientific evidence that fluoridation may be causing harm gets stronger with each passing year,” it says.
“I’m convinced, based on animal studies, clinical trials and epidemiological studies, that drinking fluoridated water for a whole lifetime will increase your risk of arthritis and also increase your risk of hip fractures, which is very serious in the elderly,” said Dr Connett in an interview with the Globe and Mail. “The reason for these problems is that half the fluoride people ingest is stored in the bone.”
Dr Connett is executive director of the Fluoride Action Network and professor emeritus of chemistry at St Lawrence University in New York.
“We argue that these risks are far too high when we are considering the mass medication of millions of people, the more so since the benefits are now seen to be so small and achievable by other means by dozens of non-fluoridating countries,” say the authors of The Case Against Fluoride.
According to them, when you use the water supply to control medication, you cannot control the dose, you cannot control who gets it and there is no individual supervision.
The book alleges that the governments of fluoridating countries have set up panels to review the safety and effectiveness of fluoridation but by virtue of the composition of these panels, their conclusions are frequently mere rubber stamps for long-entrenched government policy.
It is time for the proponents of fluoridation to do some introspection. In today’s urban world where thousands of people are already on medication for a variety of ailments ranging from blood pressure to hormonal imbalance, and with an aging population, does the water-delivery mechanism really need to deliver one more drug?
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SAHANA SINGH is an award winning journalist and the Singapore based Editor of Asian Water, a trade magazine related to water and water management issues.