Australia’s chief health and medical research agency says fluoride in drinking water does not lower a person’s IQ, cause cancer or cause any other negative health effects.
The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) analysis of more than 60 years of scientific research and 3,000 studies has backed adding fluoride to public drinking supplies as a safe and effective measure for preventing tooth decay.
The review shows there are no health effects or harm under the levels used in Australia, the NHMRC chief executive, Prof Anne Kelso, said.
“It shows that community water fluoridation, as it’s used in Australia today, is effective at reducing tooth decay and is not associated with any general negative health effects,” Prof Kelso said.
The evidence consistently showed no link between water fluoridation at Australian levels and cancer overall, including two forms of bone cancer, the NHMRC’s draft information paper released on Wednesday said.
There was also no link with the IQ or cognitive function of children or adults, it said. The study also found:
• Fluoridation reduces tooth decay by 26% to 44% in children, teenagers and adults
• There was no association with: cancer; Down’s syndrome; IQ; mortality; hip fractures; bone cancers osteosarcoma and Ewing sarcoma
• Insufficient evidence about any association with: chronic kidney disease; heart disease and high blood pressure; kidney stones; low birth weight; osteoporosis and musculoskeletal pain; thyroid function; gastric discomfort, headache, insomnia
NHMRC fluoride reference group member Prof Clive Wright said reports about water fluoridation affecting children’s IQ were based on studies undertaken in China that used poor methodology and areas with up to five times as much fluoride in the water as Australia.
He said a New Zealand study found no difference in the IQ scores of school-aged children or adults between those exposed to community water fluoridation and those who were not.
Wright said if Australia stopped putting fluoride into public water supplies, it would come at the cost of higher rates of tooth decay in children and adults.
“By preventing tooth decay and all of its associated pain and suffering, community water fluoridation saves money both for individuals, including dental treatments and time off work or school, and the healthcare system,” he said.
Fluoride occurs naturally in the water supply in many countries, and some have naturally higher levels than that in Australia, which is between 0.6-1.1 micrograms per litre.
*Original article online at https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2016/sep/14/fluoride-in-water-safe-tooth-decay-iq-cancer