Saturday, December 03, 2005

UNICEF Doubts Fluoridation

“More and more scientists are now seriously questioning the benefits of fluoride, even in small amounts,” says UNICEF, the international organization that protects children.

Fluoride is added to water supplies to reduce tooth decay. However, "... Fluoride inhibits enzymes that breed acid-producing oral bacteria whose acid eats away tooth enamel. This observation is valid, but some scientists now believe that the harmful impact of fluoride on other useful enzymes far outweighs the beneficial effect on caries prevention," according to the UNICEF Water Environment and Sanitation report, “Fluoride in water: An overview.” (1)

Dentists convince the public, trusting legislators and usually skeptical media that approximately one part per million fluoride added to water supplies confers “optimal” protection against tooth decay, without a shred of scientific support.

UNICEF reports that “ a single ‘optimal’ level for daily intake cannot be agreed because the nutritional status of individuals, which varies greatly, influences the rate at which fluoride is absorbed by the body. A diet poor in calcium for example, increases the body’s retention of fluoride.”

Further, they write “Fluoride ions bind with calcium ions, strengthening tooth enamel as it forms in children. Many researchers now consider this more of an assumption than fact, because of conflicting evidence from studies in India and several other countries over the past 10 to 15 years. Nevertheless, agreement is universal that excessive fluoride intake leads to loss of calcium from the tooth matrix, aggravating cavity formation throughout life rather than remedying it, and so causing dental fluorosis. Severe, chronic and cumulative overexposure can cause the incurable crippling of skeletal fluorosis.”

“Fluorosis presents a particular threat to children. According to a Swedish study, children and adolescents excrete fluoride less efficiently that adults do, and retain more fluoride in their bones,” according to UNICEF.

“It should be noted that fluoride is also found in some foodstuffs and in the air (mostly from production of phosphate fertilizers or burning of fluoride-containing fuels), so the amount of fluoride people actually ingest may be higher than assumed,” they write.

More Information From This Report:

Symptoms of fluorosis

Dental fluorosis, which is characterized by discoloured, blackened, mottled or chalky-white teeth, is a clear indication of overexposure to fluoride during childhood when the teeth were developing. These effects are not apparent if the teeth were already fully grown prior to the fluoride overexposure; therefore, the fact that an adult may show no signs of dental fluorosis does not necessarily mean that his or her fluoride intake is within the safety limit.

Chronic intake of excessive fluoride can lead to the severe and permanent bone and joint deformations of skeletal fluorosis. Early symptoms include sporadic pain and stiffness of joints: headache, stomach-ache and muscle weakness can also be warning signs. The next stage is osteosclerosis (hardening and calcifying of the bones), and finally the spine, major joints, muscles and nervous system are damaged.

Whether dental or skeletal, fluorosis is irreversible and no treatment exists. The only remedy is prevention, by keeping fluoride intake within safe limits.

Some governments are not yet fully aware of the fluoride problem or convinced of its adverse impact on their populations.

Better nutrition

Clinical data indicate that adequate calcium intake is clearly associated with a reduced risk of dental fluorosis. Vitamin C may also safeguard against the risk. In consequence, measures to improve the nutritional status of an affected population - particularly children - appear to be an effective supplement to the technical solutions discussed above.

(1) Fluoride In Water: An Overview

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