Copyright 2006 Linda Symonds
For over 30 years, the controversy has raged about the benefits or the hazards of human consumption of fluoride. Despite numerous studies conducted by such organizations as the World Health Organization (WHO) we seem to be no closer to definitive answers to the question of whether fluoride in our drinking water really does prevent tooth decay or if it is, in fact, contributing to major health problems like cancer and osteoporosis.
Fluoride occurs naturally in drinking water is some areas of the world, including parts of the United Stated and Canada. Many cities and towns also add fluoride to the drinking water supply during water treatment. The addition of fluoride to drinking water began in the 1940s because it was believed that fluoride prevents tooth decay. Since that time, many studies have been conducted and there is evidence that fluoride does play a part in preventing tooth decay although it is believed that with the level of dental hygiene practiced today in the developed world the addition of fluoride to the water supply is unnecessary. On a more sinister side, other studies have concluded the fluoride may cause some very serious health problems. The following quotation is taken from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website.
Many communities add fluoride to their drinking water to promote dental health. Each community makes its own decision about whether or not to add fluoride. EPA has set an enforceable drinking water standard for fluoride of 4 mg/L (some people who drink water containing fluoride in excess of this level over many years could get bone disease,
including pain and tenderness of the bones). EPA has also set a secondary fluoride standard of 2 mg/L to protect against dental fluorosis. Dental fluorosis, in its moderate or severe forms, may result in a brown staining and/or pitting of the permanent teeth. This problem occurs only in developing teeth, before they erupt from the gums. Children under nine should not drink water that has more than 2 mg/L of fluoride.
The EPA regulates the level of fluoride in drinking water because it recognizes the potential health hazards of the consumption of too much fluoride. Several countries in Europe, such as Sweden, France and Ireland have gone even further and sought medical advice from some very prestigious institutes such as the Nobel Medical Institute that recommends against fluoridation of drinking water and these countries have stopped adding fluoride to their drinking water.
A Harvard Study of boys drinking fluoridated vs. unfluoridated water, released April 5, 2006 concluded that boys who drink water with levels of fluoride considered safe by federal (EPA) guidelines are five times more likely to have a rare bone cancer than boys who drink unfluoridated water.
Dr. Hardy Limeback B.SC., Ph.D. in Biochemistry, D.D.S., head of the Department of Preventive Dentistry for the University of Toronto, and president of the Canadian Association for Dental Research states that “Children under three should never use fluoridated toothpaste,” he counseled. “Or drink fluoridated water. And baby formula must never be made up using Toronto tap water. Never.”
Even if we accept that the addition of fluoride at the EPA regulated levels, 1.4 and 2.4 parts per million (ppm) is save and will not increase our risks of developing bone or other rare cancers, we also need to consider the fact that many beverages we drink also contribute to the amount of fluoride we consume on a daily basis. In a study of fluoride levels in fruit juices, over 42% of the fruit juices tested were found to contain fluoride at over 1 ppm with some juices, particularly grape juices, as high a 3.0 ppm.
There seems to be as many scientists advocating fluoride as there are issuing warnings about it. In the meantime, we are left without clear answers about this long standing controversy. For those concerned about the potential health risks posed by fluoride consumption, or families with small children, home water filters can be installed that are very economical and very effective at removing fluoride from drinking water.
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Introduction to Biochemistry Lecture by Kevin Ahern, Part 1 of 4