For a long while, the medical and health establishment brushed off claims that fluoridation of drinking water posed any danger to humans.
Not any more.
In a cover story in the August edition of Prevention magazine, the respected publication headlines “New Research: Is Your Water Safe to Drink?”
The article notes that for over fifty years, adding fluoride to drinking water has been seen as a magic bullet to conquer tooth decay. In fact, in 1999, the Centers for Disease Control named the fluoridation of drinking supplies as one of the twentieth century’s top ten advancements in public health.
But some scientists spent years questioning fluoride’s safety and believed Americans could be ingesting toxic levels. Despite fluoride’s obvious benefits as a cavity fighter, it is, nevertheless, a poison. In fact, before its discovery as a decay-fighting superhero, it was mainly used as a rat and insect poison!
To understand the dangers of fluoride, Prevention says simply look at a tube of toothpaste and read its warning: “Keep out of reach of children 6 years of age. If more than is used for brushing is accidentally swallowed, get medical help or contact a Poison Control Center right away.”
Best of Intentions
The reasoning behind adding fluoride to America’s drinking water seemed logical. In the early years of the twentieth century, most Americans had lost all or most of their teeth by the age of forty. Once fluoride was added to drinking water, cavity rates plummeted.
A 1962 study of Newburgh, New York, one of the first cities to add fluoride to its water supply, found that in fifteen years, cavities dropped by a whopping 70 percent.
But in March of this year, a group of dentists, toxicologists and epidemiologists determined that current fluoride levels, calculated in the days when water was the main source of fluoride, are too high.
The panel, assembled by the National Research Council (NRC), recommended that the acceptable upper limit be lowered.
“Fluoride should be abandoned,” Hardy Limeback, PhD, DDS, and head of preventative dentistry at the University of Toronto, told Prevention. Limeback also was a member of the NRC panel. He added that fluoride “could turn out to be one of the top ten mistakes of the 21st century.”
Too Much of a Bad Thing
Scientists know that too much fluoride stains and discolors teeth, a condition called dental fluorosis. But some disturbing studies, while not offering conclusive proof, have linked fluoride to serious adverse health effects including bone cancer and osteoporosis.
Several Chinese studies found links between high fluoride levels and lower IQs.
Dr. Russell Blaylock, a respected neurosurgeon and editor of the Blaylock Wellness Report (published by NewsMax,), warns that fluoride may be linked to neurological impairment, brain diseases like Alzheimer’s, male impotence and infertility, sleep impairment, retardation in children, and numerous cancers.
Even fluoridated water’s reputation as a cavity-fighter extraordinaire is coming under fire. When National Institutes of Health researchers compared the dental records of a group of 16,000 children, in which half drank fluoridated water and the other half did not, they found only 18 percent less tooth decay in the fluoridated group.
The CDC’s estimates the average American gets between 1mg/L and 3mg/L of fluoride daily and has set a goal of 1mg/L.
However, even that low level may increase health risks. One study showed that elderly men whose water only had 1mg/L had a 41 percent increase in the risk of hip fractures.