Understanding Fluoride Toxicity
THE FLUORIDE CONTROVERSY
Fluoride is a very controversial topic because fluoride is a known toxin. In the National Medical Library, over 40 articles can be found on the toxicity of fluoride. Half of the articles said fluoride promotes cancer (mutagenic). It should be noted that Proctor and Gamble paid for some of the “negative-concluding” research. The toxicity of fluoride has caused many countries to rethink allowing fluoride to be added to water. Those banning fluoride are Sweden, Norway, Denmark, West Germany, Italy, Belgium, Austria, France, and The Netherlands. Despite these retractions of fluoride, the US still presses on with the goal to fluoridate (poison) every community water supply in the United States. However, many cities in the United States (including Santa Barbara, Escondido, Santa Cruz) have stopped adding fluoride to the water supplies based on the concern about fluoride’s toxicity.
All dentists are very familiar with the American Dental Association (ADA) and other “authoritative” positions on fluoride. These groups rarely mention its toxic potential or the few studies revealing increased tooth decay after fluoride use. You may wonder why the ADA and other public “health” agencies continue to recommend fluoride. This is the biggest error found in studies using large populations of people. What happens is that the study shows a benefit compared to plain water. What does that mean? It simply means that some people had fewer cavities than those who did not have fluoride. Did every person benefit? No. Will you benefit? Maybe. But is having 1 cavity less than you might have had worth the risk? This is the dilemma.
The research of Burk and Yiamouyiannis revealed that every major city with fluoride had increased rates of cancer. If you don’t want to look at this data, that is your decision. As health professionals, we don’t want to harm patients in any way and fluoride has the potential to produce great harm. I am referring to taking fluoride internally, where it has been found to cause unscheduled DNA synthesis, sister chromatid exchanges and yes, mutagenic effects on the cells. All of these events increase your risk of cancer. These may not ever effect you, but they do increase the risk of cancer after the ingestion of fluoride. Tsutsui, et al found that adding fluoride to healthy liver cells in the laboratory changed some cells into a cancer-like appearance.
The ADA’s official position is that fluoride is safe, yet there have been deaths of children in the dentist’s office due to fluoride, albeit very few. This is a very different situation than the addition of a small amount of fluoride to the water, toothpaste, vitamins, etc. Do not confuse acute fluoride intoxication as many of the fluoride opponents scare you about with long term intake. It is the same issue as taking a large (overdose) of Tylenol or iron compared to their effects is consumed excessively over a long period of time. One is an intoxication, the other is a different disease altogether.
In a letter to Ted Spence, DDS, the ADA stated, “There are three basic compounds commonly used for fluoridating drinking water supplies in the United States: sodium fluoride, sodium silicofluoride, and hydrofluorosilicic acid.” Any chemist will tell you that sodium silicofluoride and hydrofluorisilicic acid are not the same as the sodium fluoride we are all told about. Sodium hydrofluorosilicic acid is one of the most reactive chemical species know to man. Apparently it is so corrosive that it will eat through metal/ plastic pipes and corrode many materials including stainless steel and other metals. It will dissolve rubber tires and melt concrete. This is added to our water to produce “healthy teeth”.
Reported Effects of Fluoride
- inactivates 62 enzymes (Judd)
- increases the aging process (Yiamouyiannis)
- increases the incidence of cancer and tumor growth (Waldbott/Yiamouyiannis)
- disrupts the immune system (Waldbott)
- causes genetic damage (Tsutsui, et al)
- interrupts DNA repair-enzyme activity (Waldbott)
B. Spittle wrote in his article, Allergy and Hypersensitivity to Fluoride, in the journal called Fluoride(1993, 26:4, 267-273) that canker sores (Aphthous stomatitis) and ulcers of the mouth have been described as being not uncommon in persons using fluoride toothpaste and in children who have had topical fluoride applications applied to their teeth. Douglas described 133 cases of stomatitis from fluoride-containing toothpaste. All the lesions were refractory to antibiotic therapy and local medication. The lesions cleared up with changing to a non-fluoride toothpaste. In 32 patients the reaction was reproduced by applying the fluoride toothpaste, in some as often as six times. Waldbott records the case of Mrs. LCH aged 62 years who developed a mouth ulcer within three days of starting the use of a fluoride toothpaste. Elimination of the fluoride toothpaste caused the condition to gradually disappear. Application of a saline solution with a cotton swab beneath her tongue produced no ill effect. When a 1% aqueous solution of sodium fluoride was applied, there developed, within five minutes, a red swollen intensely itchy lesion in the test area which extended into a large portion of the mouth. A smear of the mucus from the area showed marked eosinophilia, which suggests an allergic reaction.
Hives was described with acute sodium fluoride poisoning by Lidbeck, Hill and Beeman. In 1959, Waldbott described six cases of hives due to fluoridated water. In one case, Mrs. PO aged 40 years, the relation of the hives to fluoride in water was confirmed by a double-blind test. Another patient, Mrs. HP aged 48 years, had generalized hives that began three weeks after moving to a fluoridated area. On using water with a low amount of fluoride in hospital (0.1 PPM) the hives subsided. Within 24 hours of resuming using fluoridated water her hives came back. An skin test with a dilute solution of sodium fluoride gave a large hive reaction followed by a generalized outbreak of hives all over her body within ten minutes. Control tests with were negative. With double-blind testing involving three bottles of water only one of which contained fluoride, hives recurred within two days of taking the water from the fluoride-containing bottle.
Contact dermatitis is a term used to describe any rash resulting from a substance touching the skin. A patch test, whereby the suspected substance is applied to the skin for one to two days and the test site observed after removal, is the best way to test for contact dermatitis. In 1948 Abelson reported a typical contact dermatitis on the hand of a dentist occurring immediately upon application of a 2% solution of sodium fluoride to a patient’s teeth. Waldbott reports observing repeatedly the same pattern of dermatitis in dentists with confirmation by patch testing. Waldbott also described a scaly red rash on the thighs of a woman aged 20 years that subsided after moving to a non-fluoridated area. After she had been symptom-free, the rash recurred at the same site with intense itching within an hour of receiving a test dose of fluoride in water. A placebo test with distilled water produced no ill effect.
Fluoride can damage the lining of the stomach and duodenum as supported by Susheela et al along with other potential mechanisms such as enzyme system inhibition. By studying patients intensively, including by direct visualization and microscopic exam, they found that the lining could be severely damaged by the toxic effects of fluoride resulting in stomach and abdominal pain. The changes included surface abrasions with loss of microvilli in the stomach and duodenum, and a ‘cracked-clay’ appearance of the lining of the duodenum. Gastrointestinal discomfort was thus seen to be an important diagnostic feature in identifying persons affected by fluoride and it was considered that such symptoms should not be dismissed as non-specific.
Moolenburgh described abdominal discomfort occurring on a double-blind basis with exposure to fluoride. He found in his Dutch general practice patients with illnesses similar to those described by Waldbott. He considered that far from having exaggerated the side effects, Waldbott had, on the contrary, been inclined to under-statement. Although Moolenburgh expected to find an allergic basis for the adverse effects associated with fluoride, he considered that the symptoms represented poisoning with inhibition of the immune system by a toxic substance in sensitive persons. Where an exacerbation of illnesses with an allergic component such as eczema and asthma occurred, his view was that immune system inhibition by fluoride had resulted in a loss of the ability to cope with the allergy. Double blind testing with 60 patients showed that certain individuals were intolerant to fluoride and that exposure to this could reproduce gastrointestinal symptoms, stomatitis, joint pains, excessive thirst, headaches and visual disturbances.
Petraborg described a wide spectrum of symptoms in 27 persons exposed to fluoridated water. He considered that since none of the persons were aware that their drinking water was fluoridated or were familiar with the manifestations of fluoride toxicity. HE felt that the accounts of their illnesses were equivalent in validity to those associated with double-blind procedures. He noted that several patients were not convinced that something in their drinking water was causing their illness and resumed drinking fluoridated water. Relapses of their illnesses followed. The symptoms included extreme chronic fatigue, excessive thirst, general hives, headaches and gastrointestinal symptoms.
The fact that fluoride has some serious negative effects is not new. L P Anthony, DDS editor of the Journal of the American Dental Association, reported in 1944 that “Fluoride is a highly toxic substance…. ” He was not alone in his concerns. “….we have very strong circumstantial evidence of systemic toxicity of the so-called absolutely safe concentrate of fluoridated water” wrote Roy E Hanford, M.D., Where is Science Taking US? in a reprint from Saturday Review. Even the American Medical Association is on record. “Don’t drink fluoridated water …. Fluoride is a corrosive poison which will produce harm on a long term basis.” stated Dr. Charles Heyd, past AMA president.
M Diesendorf, et al., (New evidence on fluoridation, Australian NZ J Public Health, April 21, 1997; (2): 187-190) reviewed recent scientific literature and found a consistent pattern of evidence — hip fractures, skeletal fluorosis, the effect of fluoride on bone structure, fluoride levels in bones and osteosarcomas — pointing to the existence of causal mechanisms by which fluoride damages bones. In addition, there was evidence accepted by some eminent dental researchers and at least one leading United States proponent of fluoridation, that there is negligible benefit from ingesting fluoride. Any (small) benefit from fluoridation comes from the action of fluoride at the surface of the teeth before the fluoridated water is swallowed. Public health authorities in Australia and New Zealand have appeared reluctant to consider openly and frankly the implications of this and earlier scientific evidence unfavorable to the continuation of the fluoridation of drinking water supplies.
Fluoride and the Brain
The 1991 review, Fluoride Benefits and Risks, published by the USPHS states that there is “relative impermeability of the blood-brain barrier to fluoride.” No reference was made to fluoride effects on the brain.
In their 1978 book Fluoridation, The Great Dilemma, Waldbott, Burgstahler and McKinney describe the findings of Soviet physicians that 79% of patients with occupational fluorosis demonstrate brain dysfunction.
Studies from China show in endemic fluorosis areas a lowered IQ. Chinese studies indicate that the influence of a high fluoride environment on intelligence may occur early in development such as during the stages of embryonic life or infancy when growth is more rapid. Ultramicroscopic study of human embryo brains in endemic fluorosis areas showed “differentiation of brain nerve cells were poor, and brain development was delayed.”
The studies of Li et al. (soot fluorosis) and Zhao et al. (water supply fluorosis) compare the IQ status of children living in high fluoride areas to those in low fluoride areas. Li’s data shows a flattening in the high fluoride population of the normal “Bell Curve” distribution of IQ. Both studies show a shift of the curve toward the low IQ (<70 IQ) end in the high fluoride group. Both studies demonstrate that IQ is lower in all age groups in the high fluoride areas compared to those in the low fluoride areas. This finding suggests neurological damage in early development; that is, in utero. Other causes of lowered IQ appear to have been ruled out. These include: iodine deficiency; other congenital and acquired diseases; and cultural and ethnic differences. Dietary differences, which are known to play an important role in dental and skeletal fluorosis were not specifically accounted for although the authors mention “similar circumstances of material life.”
These studies present evidence that, as is the case with infertility, brain dysfunction is prevalent in endemic fluorosis areas in countries outside of those in which deliberate fluoridation of drinking water is practiced. When the rising prevalence of dental fluorosis and the high dietary intakes of fluoride in fluoridated areas are taken into consideration, it may be said that large areas of endemic fluorosis have now been created in Canada, the US and other fluoridated countries. How much responsibility can be attributed to fluoride for the fertility and behavioral problems addressed by the authors of Our Stolen Future?
In 1995, the 50th Anniversary of fluoridation in the US, and Canada, Mullenix, Denbesten et al. published a study of the neurotoxicity of sodium fluoride in rats. The authors state: “[T]his is the first laboratory study to demonstrate that CNS functional output is vulnerable to fluoride, that the effects on behavior depend on the age at exposure and that fluoride accumulates in brain tissue.” The authors state further that “[E]xperience with other developmental neurotoxins prompts expectations that changes in behavioral function will be comparable across species, especially humans and rats.” This study indicated a potential for motor dysfunction, IQ deficits and learning disabilities in humans. The authors point out that the plasma levels in their rat model (0.059 to 0.640 ppm fluoride) are similar to those reported in humans exposed to high levels of fluoride.
These authors refer to early Chinese studies in their paper and point out that high levels of fluoride in drinking water (i.e., 3 to 11 ppm) affect the nervous system directly without first causing physical deformations from skeletal fluorosis. Thus evidence of obvious toxicity is not suspected since the latter is currently used as the ultimate indicator of intoxication in discussions by proponents of fluoridation. “Still unexplained,” the authors continue, “is the possibility that fluoride exposure is linked to subtle brain dysfunction.”
Fluoride and Fertility
One of the major problems encountered with excess fluoride exposure in animals concerned a high percentage of infertility. After the animals were changed to a diet low in fluoride, the number of offspring born increased; the number of litters increased; and the numbers born alive increased. The adult death rate also decreased from 14.6% to 3.3% in just one year. A number of abnormalities associated with the fluoride-contaminated feed were passed on through multiple generations.
Freni, in his 1994 review, demonstrated decreased fertility in many different species of animals. High doses of fluoride in rats showed birth defects with cumulative effects. This phenomenon, according to Freni’s research, was first noted in 1933 and confirmed in 1984. His paper presents multiple examples to conclude that fluoride easily crosses the placenta.
Freni participated in the 1991 Public Health Service review of the toxicity of fluoride and in the NTP study that emphasized the “cancer paradigm” discussed in Our Stolen Future.1
He was concerned about the implications of reproductive problems that were encountered. As a result, in 1991, he searched for reproductive studies that involved humans; but, he found none. It may come as a surprise to recognize that, after 46 years of fluoridation of drinking water, no study had taken place on the effect of fluoride on the developing fetus!
Freni found that in counties whose water supplies had at least 3 ppm fluoride there was a lower fertility rate.
Narayana and Chinoy referred in a 1994 paper to “the wide prevalence of infertility in the fluorosis-afflicted human population in India and other parts of the globe.” In their study, mature rats were given a high dose of sodium fluoride for almost two months. They found that fluoride interferes with sexual development (androgenesis). They suggested that the effect of fluoride may inhibit the action of testosterone. This was the same concern described in Our Stolen Future about hormone-disrupting chemicals. (Our Stolen Future: Are We Threatening Our Fertility, Intelligence, and Survival? by Theo Colborn, et al.
Fluoride and Cancer
According to the research by Burk and Yiamouyiannis, 61,000 cancer deaths in the U.S.A. result from fluoridation each year. One study found that fluoride increased cancer deaths 17% over a 16-year period in large cities (from Gerald Judd, Ph.D.).
“You have been led to believe the fluorine makes teeth harder. The fact is, it actually makes teeth softer.” Says George Meinig, DDS, a founder of the American Academy of Endodontics. The U.S.A. shows a 22% increase in decay every 16 years from fluoride use and a 50% decline in decay every 20 years. This must be compared with Finland’s 98%, Sweden’s 80% and Holland’s 72% declines. None of these countries fluoridate their water. (Gerald Judd)
A paper published by the Health Freedom News indicates that fluoride is toxic to the nervous system (a neurotoxin). This fact this has been known for some time; at least since the early 1940s, well before the fluoridation experiment with Grand Rapids. Dr Gerard Judd, Ph.D. in chemistry and Emeritus of the Manhattan Project, found that fluoride could inactivate 62 enzyme systems.
Geoffrey Smith stated, “Recent studies suggest that fluoride may be genotoxic.” (p 79) and “There is now a substantial body of evidence suggesting that fluoride is mutagenic.” (p 93).
Gibson also noted, “Fluoride is one of the most toxic inorganic chemicals in the Earth’s crust, … However, with increasing experience, doubts about both safety and efficacy have arisen.” (p 111). He added, “A possible link between fluoridation of public water supplies and an increase in the cancer death rate has been debated for over 20 years and there is now no doubt that fluoride can cause genetic damage.” (p 111). Gibson noted, “Inhibitory effects of fluoride on different enzyme systems have been demonstrated.” (p 111) and “A section of the population may therefore be at risk of compromised immune system function from water fluoridation schemes.” (p 112).
Tsutsui et al noted a significant increase in chromosome aberrations at the chromatid level, sister chromatid exchanges, and unscheduled DNA synthesis was induced by sodium fluoride in a dose- and time dependent manner. These results indicate that sodium fluoride is genotoxic and capable of inducing neoplastic transformation of Syrian hamster embryo cells in culture.” (p 938).
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that fluoride at 2 PPM salmon were sterile, yet at 1 PPM fluoride is placed in our water supply. According to Dr. Richard Foulkes, fluoride only helps [if it helps] children up to age 12 years. Yet, everybody is “forced” to drink it. It has been reported that Oscar Ewing, the lobbyist who pushed for fluoridation in the legislature, told the senators not to drink it.
The prevention of tooth decay requires good nutrition. Tooth-brushing [important as it is] does not stop tooth decay. Fluoride does not stop rampant tooth decay. Fluoride only hardens to outer surface of the enamel and may prevent calcium from being deposited when a tooth is re-mineralized. Nutrition stops tooth decay. There are supplements designed to help build and maintain strong teeth. Call or e-mail us if you want more information.
Nutrition to combat the effects of fluoride
The 22nd conference of the International Society for Fluoride Research was held in Bellingham, Washington from August 24 to 27, 1998. Several papers presented at the conference described how vitamins can be used to reverse the damage that fluoride causes. We usually think of fluorosis as a permanent damage to bones or teeth. Fluoride can also damage the liver, kidneys, and reproductive organs. However, the effects are reversible with vitamins.
Fluoride accumulates in ovaries. In laboratory experiments with mice, fluoride damaged the tissues and cellular structures of ovaries and uterus. Scientists showed photographs of the tissues they studied. The sequence of photographs showed the tissues being progressively damaged as the mice became intoxicated with fluoride. When the mice were given vitamin C and calcium supplements and fluoride was not put in their water anymore, the tissues almost returned to the original state of good health.
As mentioned above, fluoride interferes with male fertility as well. In an experiment with male mice, a larger proportion of the sperm became abnormal when they ingested fluoride. The sperm lost their motility or died. When the same mice were given vitamin C and calcium and no fluoride, their sperm significantly recovered.
Fluoride impairs the production of free radical scavengers such as glutathione. Fluoride impairs the function of enzymes that prevent lipid peroxidation. These enzymes include glutathione peroxidase, superoxide dismutase and catalase.
In another experiment with mice, Vitamins E and D repaired the damage that fluoride did to liver and kidneys. Fluoride caused the glomeruli, those tiny blood vessels in the kidneys for removing waste, to atrophy. In the liver, fluoride caused fatty deposition and the death of cells. Vitamin E was beneficial because it is an anti-oxidant. Vitamin D promotes the absorption of calcium and phosphorus so that their optimal concentrations will be maintained in the blood. This optimal concentration supports the metabolic activity of various tissues. Vitamins E and D were effective after fluoride was removed from their diet.
In an experiment with rats, fluoride impaired the growth rate, but the rats that were given beta-carotene and superoxide dismutase supplements had a faster growth rate. Fluoride causes damage to the fat in your body (lipid peroxidation), which is counteracted by the anti-oxidants beta-carotene and superoxide dismutase.
Fluoride and “The Paradoxical Effect”
Our Stolen Future emphasizes the importance of the “paradoxical effect” in establishing the biological effects of toxins and, more particularly, the hormone-disrupting artificial chemicals. The authors credit Frederick Von Saal’s investigations of DES to show the “paradoxical response”; that is, the response increases for a time and then diminishes with even higher doses. This produces a “U-shaped” response curve.
This phenomenon in which a high dose may paradoxically cause less damage than a lower dose was described in a 1964 article by Schatz, Schalscha and Schatz. These authors show that paradoxical effects are not isolated phenomena but are broadly operative and of widespread importance in the biochemistry and physiology of many living systems under many different conditions.
Schatz et al. stated that “[P]aradoxical effects have been produced by radiation, temperature, mutagenic and carcinogenic chemicals, fluoride, steroid hormones, dextran, detergents, trace metals, herbicides, fungicides, insecticides, germicides, antibiotics, drugs and a host of other agents.” It is noteworthy that fluoride is included in this list. They show, as an example, the curve of inhibition of human prostatic acid phosphatase. “[A]s the fluoride concentration is increased over a thousand-fold range, the extent of inhibition rises, attains a maximum that may approach 100% and subsequently falls.”
Schatz compared low level fluoridation with low level radiation: “[T]he occurrence of paradoxical effects with low level fluoridation and low level radiation shows that there is no threshold level below which fluoride and radiation are harmless.”
The similarities between the DES story told in Our Stolen Future and the story of the fluoridation of drinking water is striking. In both, numerous animal studies have been declared to be irrelevant. Both DES and fluoridation of water supplies have been shown to be without effect for the purposes claimed; the prevention of abortion in the case of DES and of tooth decay in the case of fluoridation. DES continued to be prescribed for several decades after it had been discredited; fluoridation is being pushed now as hard as ever with the full support of the Public Health Service and professional organizations representing Dentistry and Medicine, especially Pediatrics.
The failure of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to act on DES is described in Our Stolen Future. This failure to act is repeated in the case of the human consumption of fluoride.
COMMENTS: Using a fluoride toothpaste makes sense, but drinking water and children’s multi-vitamins with added fluoride (Poly-Vi-Flor, Tri-Vi-Flor, etc) doesn’t.
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