I, like most of you reading this, grew up with fluoride being a part of our daily lives and it still is. It is in our toothpaste, in that grainy scrub the dentist buffers on our teeth, and in our water. We are told that fluoride is in toothpaste and water to prevent cavities and promote a healthy mouth. The unfortunate fact is that fluoride is a poison, and stopping its use will not lead to cavities.
So, why do we still use it?
Well, to understand that we have to go back in history. Back to 1914, when fluoride began being added to toothpaste. Now, let’s imagine what life was like in 1914. Poor nutrition. Limited scientific data. Political agendas. As a frame of reference, this was only just 10 years after Coca Cola removed the cocaine from their sodas. So, needless to say, scientific research on products and consumer health were limited.
Then, in 1951, it became the official policy of the U.S. Public Health Service to add fluoride to drinking water. This, they felt, would ensure that those with poor brushing habits would still get the ‘benefit’ of fluoride.
So, why is it bad?
Fluoride is a naturally occurring element, but that’s not what is being added to our water. The fluoride in our water is a byproduct of the phosphate fertilizer industry. In fact, it is illegal for these companies to dump their waste, but is perfectly acceptable, according to the U.S., to add these chemicals to our drinking water.
Many developed nations in the world have banned fluoridation (the list includes: China, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Japan, France, Scotland, and Belgium. The United States is an exception. There are more people drinking artificially fluoridated water in the United States than all other countries combined, according to the British Fluoridation Society.
Some of these countries have banned the practice of adding fluoride to water due to the lack of scientific evidence that it presents a benefit to dental health, while others have banned the practice due to it being considered “forced medication” on their population. Most dentists in the United States follow the American Dental Association’s (ADA) position on fluoride, which claims that fluoride is beneficial for dental health. Unfortunately, the ADA rarely mentions the toxic potential of fluoride.
There is, however, scientific evidence that exposure to fluoride can lead to fluorosis (white or brown streaking of teeth), skeletal fluorosis, lowered IQ, neurotoxicity, and cancers. In 1990, a study by the National Toxicology Program showed that rats given water high in fluoride for 2 years, had an increased number of bone tumors. There have been few studies conducted in the United States, but many international studies can be accessed at: http://fluoridealert.org/issues/health/brain/
Dr. John Yiamouyiannis, former Science Director of the National Health Federation, and longtime opponent of the use of fluoride additives, says in his book, Fluoride: The Aging Factor, “It is quite clear that fluoride causes genetic damage. The mechanism of action of fluoride cannot be exactly pinpointed because fluoride interferes with a number of physiological processes. Most evidence indicates that fluoride acts on the DNA repair enzyme system,” he goes on to say “the fact that fluoride has also been shown to cause cancer should not be surprising since it is almost universally accepted that cancer results from genetic damage.”
Dean Burk, Chief Chemist Emeritus (U.S. National Cancer Institute), conveys the danger of fluoride poignantly, “Everything causes cancer? Perhaps. Conceivably even a single electron at the other side of the universe. The real question is, how likely is any one particular cause? In a point of fact, fluoride causes more human cancer death, and causes it faster, than any other chemical.”
My own personal opinion is that anything that can only be given to my child in “pea sized” quantities, without having to call poison control, is probably not something I need to put into my child’s body. A fluoride spill requires cleanup from a hazmat team. Again, probably something that doesn’t belong in our bodies. So, with evidence pointing to no health benefits for the addition of fluoride, it’s something my family is opting out of.
What you can do:
The first, and easiest suggestion is to choose a fluoride-free toothpaste. As the research about the dangers of fluoride is becoming more wide-spread, the options for toothpaste are expanding. In my home we use Tom’s and BabyGanics. Other brands such as, Trader Joe’s, Nature’s Gate, and Kiss My Face, offer fluoride-free versions as well. If you live in a more rural area free of Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and Target, I suggest turning to Amazon.com.
To get rid of fluorination in water is a bit more difficult. First, you must note that purchasing a water filter (e.g., Brita, Pur) and boiling water are ineffective at eliminating fluoride. In addition, the vast majority of all bottled water sold in the United States contain fluoride.
There are a few ways you can take steps toward lowering your fluoride intake:
- Vote. Petition. Speak Loudly. Get this topic on your local ballot and scream from the rooftops.
- Purchase fluoride-free toothpaste. This one is easy!
- Say “no” when your dentist offers the fluoride treatment.
- Purchase a reverse osmosis system. Warning: this is a bit expensive. These systems can range from $300-900 for general versions, and many require a plumber to install. However, if you can budget for this- this is your best option.
- Berkey Light Water Purification System with added PF2 Fluoride Water Filter. This system is approximately $300, with the filter included. It is a BPA-free countertop system that is more economical than a whole-house reverse osmosis system.
Have another system you’d like us to investigate? Let us know in the comments section!
“Community Water Fluoridation.” www.cdc.gov. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), n.d., Web, 9 April 2015.
Lennon, Michael A. “One in a Million: The First Community Trial of Water Fluoridation.” Bulletin of the World Health Organization (WHO). September 2006: 84 (9).
“Most Countries Reject Water Fluoridation: Statements from European and other Heath, Water, & Environment Authorities on Water Fluoridation.” www.actionpa.org. ActionPA, n.d., Web, 9 April 2015.
National Research Council (NRC). 2006. “Fluoride in Drinking Water: A Scientific Review of EPA’s Standards.” Washington, D.C. National Academies Press.
Yiamouyiannis, Dr. John. Fluoride the Aging Factor: How to Recognize and Avoid the Devastating Effects of Fluoride. Health Action Press, 1993.