Fluoride Action Network



A 45-year-old white male was found to have radiographic findings of a diffusely dense appendicular skeleton, mild trabecular thickening, and multiple thoracic compression fractures indicating structural weakness. Bone mineral density was above the expected range for his age on the lumbar spine and femoral neck. Social history was significant for well-water consumption and daily instant-tea ingestion of 68 oz (1.89 L) for the past 10–15 years. Pertinent laboratory data are presented in Table 1.

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The differential diagnoses included osteopetrosis, Paget disease, hyperparathyroidism, renal osteodystrophy, osteomalacia, and skeletal fluorosis. Given the patient’s history of well-water and instant-tea consumption, radiographic findings, and increased plasma fluoride, the diagnosis of skeletal fluorosis was given. Fluoride sequesters in bone and enhances osteoblast action, thus toxicity leads to dense but brittle bones. The high concentrations of fluoride in instant tea preparations (1 ) and groundwater contamination with fluoride (2) may both have contributed to this patient’s condition.