Scientists will call for new research today to determine whether artificially fluoridated water has harmful side-effects such as increasing the risk of hip fractures or cancers.
A Medical Research Council report stresses that the benefits of water fluoridation in reducing tooth decay have been universally endorsed. But an expert working group says more evidence is required.
Dr Paul Harrison, the director of the MRC Institute for Environment and Health, said: “We need a better understanding of how much fluoride we’re all absorbing.”
About 500,000 people in the UK receive water that is naturally fluoridated at about the same level as artificial supplies, introduced in the Sixties. There is no firm evidence linking fluoridation to cancer, but the group says future studies of bone cancer should look at the impact of fluoridation.
The Health minister Hazel Blears said: “There is nothing in this report to suggest any reason why water fluoridation should not be considered as a public health measure in areas where dental health remains a serious problem.”