Fluoride Action Network

Letter: No evidence fluoride in water will harm, but Parry Sound reader wants choice

Source: Parry Sound North Star | October 18th, 2018 | By Kirsi Henry
Location: Canada, Ontario

RE: Parry Sound doctors support water fluoridation for health of community

Dear community physicians (who support fluoridation),

I know you as respected professionals, community members and friends. I appreciate that you’ve taken the time to communicate your position. And I have no doubt that you want promote the health and well-being of everyone in our community. However, my perception of this issue is different than yours.

I’ll begin with where we agree:

1. Research has shown that fluoride reduces cavities and helps form healthy teeth.

2. Adding fluoride to water is an easy way to have the population ingest fluoride.

3. I have not found a valid study that proves a direct relationship between fluoride ingestion and cancer.

I do not agree that fluoride should be added to our tap water and here is my rationale:

(This is where I invite you to correct me, if I’m wrong)

Water fluoridation had (and continues to have) the most significant impact in countries or communities that are under-developed and lacking in effective social service programs.  Our community does have people living in a lower socioeconomic status but compared to developing countries (and poor American counties), we have a strong health and dental care network that focuses on prevention (hopefully each of you (professionals) stepped-up prevention measures when fluoride was removed from the water).

We the public, have also increased our understanding of dental hygiene benefits over the decades (the introduction of toothpaste and mouthwash with fluoride, regular brushing/flossing and checkups have become more of a social norm). And interestingly, studies are raising the question of the relationship between dental caries and one’s DNA and others are focusing on the lack of key vitamins in your diet.

Will fluoride reduce the risk of cavities in Parry Sound? Yes. But the net impact of fluoridated water has diminished significantly, relative to the increased effects on daily brushing, flossing, diet and intake of fluoride from other sources. As a community, we are at a much lower risk for cavities today.

Adding fluoride to the water is an easy way to have an at-risk population ingest it. My question: Is it right to prescribe a universal treatment for an at-risk population, and subsequently to the rest of the people on the water system? You have not spoken with me about my dental hygiene risks or habits and you have not assessed my diet nor the amount of fluoride I ingest (via food, drink, toothpaste residue, etc.). Yet, you are prescribing a daily dose of fluoride and I have no input into this treatment. While I have no doubt that you care for my well-being, I’m concerned that you are prescribing treatment without diagnosis…which some would say is malpractice. I know a lot of people with anemia. If studies show that a group of us would benefit, would you advise adding iron to our water supply?

The point I’m trying to make is that people aren’t arguing about the effectiveness of our water supply as the delivery mechanism. We are rejecting the idea of forced ingestion of a prescribed chemical.

Many other countries do not support fluoridation of water, and I think it’s fair to say that not all of their citizens are misinformed or un-empathetic to lower socioeconomic populations. From the Netherlands: “The implementation of fluoridation of drinking water is practically feasible, by adding a controlled dose of a fluoride compound to the drinking water. This could be realized at relatively low cost. On the other hand, there are also several major barriers for implementation. In the first place, at present the addition of chemicals to drinking water is prohibited by law in the Netherlands. This law came into effect because it was widely perceived that drinking water should not be used as a vehicle for pharmaceuticals. Furthermore, fluoridation of drinking water would conflict with the freedom to choose for natural drinking water. This principle of freedom of choice is considered as an important basic principle in the Netherlands.” (2007 – RIVM report for the Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sports. Economic evaluation of prevention: further evidence.)

With respect to the safety of fluoride in our drinking water, I have found no direct link to cancer. And many studies use doses that are much higher than our drinking water limit. I am noticing that scientists are expanding the scope of research to consider the effect on bone strength over the long term (as excess fluoride is stored in bone) and impacts on the developing brain.

My concern: As scientists continue to research fluoride, and advancements in research techniques enable us to understand the human body (and its complex systems) better, what will they discover? I believe there are many illnesses that we do not fully understand yet or what has caused them. I also believe that chemicals can interact with one another and have impacts we also don’t fully understand.

In 2003 WHO (World Health Organization) states that “it is particularly important to consider climactic conditions, volume of water intake and intake of fluoride from other sources.”  And “a person’s diet, general state of health as well as the body’s ability to dispose of fluoride all affect how the exposure to fluoride manifests itself.”

While there is no direct evidence that the fluoride in my drinking water will harm me today, I am acknowledging that I prefer to take reasonable action now to reduce unnecessary* chemical exposure. I want the choice whether I ingest additional fluoride for preventative measures. (*Unnecessary for me. Others should be assessed and advised individually).

There are many professionals who don’t support fluoridation of water supplies. Included on this list is Swedish Nobel Laureate in Medicine, Dr. Arvid Carlsson who stated “I would advise against fluoridation. Individual prophylaxis (treatment) is preferable on principle grounds and is as equally effective…. Fluoridation of water supplies would also treat people who may not benefit from the treatment. Side-effects cannot be excluded and, thus, some people might only have negative effects without any benefit… In Sweden, water fluoridation, to my knowledge, is no longer advocated by anybody. In Sweden, the emphasis nowadays is to keep the environment as clean as possible with regard to pharmacologically active and, thus, potentially toxic substances.” This statement was from 2001 – 17 years ago! Dr. Carlsson continued to advocate against fluoridation until he died in 2018.

Saying NO to fluoride in our tap water does not mean I’m turning my back to any at-risk children in Parry Sound. We should continue to educate parents, increase preventative screening (dentist, health unit, Dr.’s appointments) and provide people with the appropriate preventative measures, or prescribed treatment, based on their individual needs and diagnosis. A co-ordinated, public effort is an effective way to support the development of healthy teeth and help offset the increased risk of cavities, without public water fluoridation.

Yes fluoride in the water is effective for cavity prevention. In 2018 it is no longer the only way to prevent cavities, nor the right way – in my opinion.

I vote to keep our water as pure as possible. I vote NO to adding fluoride to our tap water.

Kirsi Henry

Parry Sound

*Original letter online at https://www.parrysound.com/opinion-story/8973857-no-evidence-fluoride-in-water-will-harm-but-parry-sound-reader-wants-choice/