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Thursday, November 30, 2017

Fluoride Increases Blood-Lead-Levels in Children, Studies Show

A new study reports that children who drink typically-fluoridated tap water have higher blood-lead levels (BLL) than children, who drink bottled water, according to dental researchers Sanders and Slade (American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Nov 2017). 

While this wonky study is flawed, several previous studies link fluoridation chemicals to higher BLL; others link blood-lead to more tooth decay.

We're not sure if Sanders and Slade are protecting dentistry's sacred cow, fluoride, instead of America's children and future, when they oddly put tooth decay on the same level with brain damaging lead. 

Without knowing the fluoride content of any of the water consumed by their test subjects, they imply that tap water drinkers have less tooth decay and the reason is the presumed fluoride content of tap water. They hint that parents might need to choose between damaging their children’s brains with lead or save their teeth with fluoride.

No!  Cavities can be fixed but lead poisoning is irreversible.

Further, good diet and dental care can prevent cavities without exposure to fluoride’s adverse drug effects. For instance, vitamin D deficiency is linked to more tooth decay

But lead is a brain-damaging poison that can cause life-threatening diseases without any safe level (American Academy of Pediatrics, Council on Environmental Health).

Even low blood-lead-levels are linked to lower IQ, according to the CDC

The three artificial water fluoridation additives are fluorosilicic acid, sodium fluorosilicate (both silicofluorides) and sodium fluoride (CDC)  All can contain contain lead when added to public water supplies. 

Masters and Coplan (Neurotoxicology 2000) reported a link between fluoridation chemicals (silicofluorides) and children’s lead absorption.

A CDC study (Macek) attempted but failed to dispute Masters and Coplan’s findings. Macek’s research also revealed that  fluorosilicic acid was associated with an elevated risk for high blood-lead-levels, according to the  Fluoride Action Network (FAN). Macek decided the findings weren't significant except among children living in houses of unknown age who had a 530% increased risk for high-blood-levels, reports FAN

A re-analysis of Macek's data, after placing children exposed to fluorosilicic acid and sodium fluorosilicate in one group (silicofluorides) and all others in another, Coplan et al. found that the children exposed to silicofluoridated water had a significantly elevated risk of having high blood lead levels. 

Coplan explained to this writer that, since silicofluorides don’t come apart totally in water, a breakdown product may enhance the uptake of lead  into children’s blood – lead that’s already in the environment (not necessarily in the water). Sodium fluoride completely comes apart in water.

An Environmental Health Perspectives 2002 study, supports Masters and Coplan’s findings. Children in the silicofluoridated  Boston area have more tooth decay and higher blood lead levels than children in non-fluoridated Farmington, Maine. 

Lead is linked to more tooth decay

Several studies link blood lead levels, even low amounts, to higher rates of tooth decay. (BMC Oral Health Jan 2017Caries Research 2015Journal of the American Medical Association 1999 ; Journal of Clinical Pediatric Dentistry 2013 & 2017; Vojnosanit Pregled 2013 )

In fact, “Associations between childhood lead exposures and dental caries in children have been reported for over 30 years,” according to Science of the Total Environment (2007)

Children’s teeth with a high lead and high fluoride content had significantly more cavities than teeth with less lead and fluoride (Journal of Dental Research 1977).

Fluoride Can Increase the Uptake & Toxicity of Lead 

Rats exposed to lead and sodium fluoride accumulates higher lead concentrations in their blood than rats only exposed to lead, according to NIH government researchers in 1976.

Lead intensifies fluoride’s teeth damaging effects causing a greater incidence and severity of dental fluorosis. (Leite 2011) 

Exposure to lead exacerbates dental fluorosis. (Arch Oral Biology) 


In fact, there's some evidence that fluoride caues cavities.

“Despite significant financial, training, and program investments, US children’s caries experience and inequities continued to increase over the last 20 years.” American Journal of Public Health 2017). This after  72 years of fluoridation, reaching 2/3 of Americans, promising to substantially reduce tooth decay, especially in poor children.

65% of poor 6-8 year-olds and 12-15 year-olds have cavities in their primary and permanent teeth, respectively. 
 
“The prevalence of pediatric caries in the United States has remained consistent for the past 3 decades,” reports Dye. 
 
"… there has been little improvement in preventing caries initiation," said Dye.

Perhaps Sanders and Slade are protecting organized dentistry or just can't believe  the obvious. Fluoride is harming America’s children and America’s future.  Fluoridation must be halted right now!


It’s up to every individual to urge legislators and water departments to stop adding this unnecessary, health-robbing, ineffective and money-wasting chemical, fluoride, into your bodies via the water supply.  If you don’t, nothing will change.  It’s time to speak truth to power and see the dominoes fall just as the powerful predators are being taken down by courageous women in the workplace.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Is Fluoride in Water Good or Bad, by Susannah Shmurak

Most Americans drink fluoridated water. Is that a good thing? by Susannah Shmurak

Research raises new questions about whether fluoridation’s benefits outweigh its risks. 

If you’re like many Americans, you drink fluoridated water without questioning its safety or efficacy. For decades municipalities have been adding fluoride to water supplies to reduce the incidence of tooth decay at the advice of numerous highly credentialed entities, including the World Health Organization, the U.S. Public Health Service, the American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

But in late 2016, a coalition of activist groups — Food and Water Watch, The American Academy of Environmental Medicine, Fluoride Action Network, the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology, the Organic Consumers Association, and Moms Against Fluoridation — together with private citizens from around the United States petitioned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ban the addition of fluoride to water supplies, citing research pointing to health risks linked to exposure to fluoride.

What exactly are the benefits of fluoridating municipal water supplies? What are the risks? And how does a conscientious society balance the two? These questions are finding new urgency as a growing body of research calls into question its safety. 

Fluoride’s Benefits

The practice of adding fluoride to drinking water began in the 1940s after dentists observed that children living in communities with naturally high levels of fluoride had fewer cavities than those who didn’t. Several communities began adding fluoride to municipal water supplies as a public health measure to lessen the prevalence of dental decay. Studies revealed that cavity rates in those communities were lower than in comparison communities that did not fluoridate, and increasing numbers of municipalities decided to fluoridate in ensuing decades. Rates of dental decay continued to drop. Today, more than 200 million Americans live in communities with fluoridated water. (Most, but not all, major U.S. cities fluoridate.)

However, some argue that other factors during this period, such as advances in dental care and widespread use of fluoridated toothpaste, are likely behind these declines. In fact, European countries that never fluoridated have seen very similar drops in cavity rates

Howard Pollick, professor at the University of California, San Francisco School of Dentistry and spokesperson on fluoridation for the American Dental Association, says it has become “harder and harder to separate the benefit of water fluoridation in light of the use of fluoride products” such as toothpaste and fluoride varnishes. Designing a study that can tell us with certainty that fluoridated water confers benefits above and beyond what we derive from other sources of fluoride and dental care like sealants, he says, is “very difficult.”

In an effort to quantify the benefits of fluoridating water, the Iowa Fluoride Study has followed 570 participants from infancy to young adulthood. Researchers have found that children living in communities that fluoridate their water don’t have statistically significantly fewer cavities than those in unfluoridated communities. 

Steven Levy, who directs the study, says that the demographics of study participants, who report brushing regularly and receiving consistent dental care, likely affect results. For those who lack access to fluoridated dental products and preventive dental care, Levy speculates that fluoridated water’s impact on dental health may be considerably greater. In fact, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that fluoridated water reduces cavities by 25 percent which includes low-income populations who Levy says generally have much higher rates of tooth decay. Critics point out that this reduction amounts to perhaps one cavity per person and argue that these benefits to teeth — minimal for those who brush regularly with fluoride toothpaste and see a dentist regularly — must be weighed against the risks to other parts of the body.

Potential for Harm?

The EPA in February 2017 denied the 2016 petition on the grounds that it lacked “scientifically defensible” proof of neurotoxic harm caused by fluoridated water. But Kathleen Thiessen, senior scientist at Oak Ridge Center for Risk Analysis who has three decades experience assessing fluoride’s risk, maintains that the agency dismissed many high-quality studies. Further, Thiessen says the sheer number of studies, despite their limitations, requires taking the possibility of harm from fluoride more seriously. And Harvard adjunct professor of environmental health Philippe Grandjean, who has spent his career investigating the effects of environmental pollutants on children’s development, says evidence suggesting fluoride’s potential for harm warrants reconsidering its addition to drinking water.
Indeed, over the past two decades, numerous studies have begun to challenge assumptions about the safety of ingesting fluoride.

2014 paper on developmental neurotoxins Grandjean and colleague Philip Landrigan of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York published in The Lancet included fluoride in a list of chemicals with developmental neurotoxic effects. In 2012 Grandjean worked on a systematic review of studies from China showing lower IQ in areas with naturally high levels of fluoride. Though these studies had some design issues, Grandjean contends that when more than 20 discrete studies point to a similar effect, they should receive serious consideration rather than be dismissed for their limitations. If anything, he says, the imprecision in these studies likely “led to an underestimation of the effects” of fluoride on neurodevelopment. 

study published in Environmental Health Perspectives in September 2017 sought to address the shortcomings of previous studies. Looking at nearly 300 mother-child pairs, researchers  analyzed samples of pregnant mothers’ urine archived in the Mexican Early Life Exposures in Mexico to Environmental Toxicants (ELEMENT) project. The study measured maternal urinary fluoride and cognitive performance in children and found significantly lower cognitive performance in children whose mothers had higher levels of fluoride. Howard Hu, founding dean of the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto and co-author of the study, says that results may underpredict the relationship between fluoride and IQ.

Research currently underway aims to clarify the relationship between fluoridated water and urinary concentrations of fluoride. ADA’s Pollick has reviewed studies on fluoride’s health effects and says that the dental community has taken them into consideration. He reports that at present “the evidence points to its being safe” and notes that we lack information about urinary levels in Americans. 

Research currently underway aims to clarify the relationship between fluoridated water and urinary concentrations of fluoride. The Canadian “Maternal-Infant Research on Environmental Chemicals” (MIREC) study is examining urinary fluoride levels of women during pregnancy and subsequent behavior of their children. The MIREC study took samples from 1,960 pregnant women in 10 Canadian cities, half of which fluoridate drinking water. Preliminary findings suggest urine levels in women from fluoridated communities in the Canadian study are comparable to those found in the Mexico research, according to study director Christine Till, associate professor of clinical neuropsychology at Toronto’s York University.

Linda Birnbaum, director of the U.S. National Toxicology Program, oversaw a 2016 review of animal studies on fluoride that she says determined the available evidence inconclusive. The NTP is currently reviewing human epidemiological data, including the recent ELEMENT study. Its findings, says Birnbaum, help confirm conclusions drawn from the Chinese studies on fluoride and IQ and show that smaller increases in fluoride concentrations are associated with impaired cognitive performance. While she calls it “an important study,” she also notes that it requires replication.
Researchers face numerous difficulties, Birnbaum says, including quantifying how much fluoride people ingest, since “it’s everywhere now,” including in prepared foods and beverages, such as soup, soda and coffee  made with water sourced from fluoridated community water supplies that reach people living in communities without fluoridated water. Since everyone is likely consuming some fluoride, finding a comparison group that doesn’t is nearly impossible. What additional research will hopefully help us do, says Birnbaum, is “understand differential susceptibility — are there some people because of genetics or past history who are more sensitive [to fluoride] than others?”

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is another area of scrutiny. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is another area of scrutiny. A study published in Environmental Health in 2015 found that every 1 percent increase in the prevalence of water fluoridation in 1992 was associated with 67,000–131,000 additional cases of ADHD between 2003 and 2011. Till, who co-authored the study, says that such observational studies cannot prove causation. She and other researchers are using the Mexican ELEMENT and Canadian MIREC study data to better understand possible relationships between fluoride exposure and ADHD.

Because fluoride can interfere with absorption of iodine and affect thyroid function, some research has looked into the possible links between drinking fluoridated water and the prevalence of thyroid disorders. A 2015 study in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health looking at the association between drinking water fluoride and hypothyroidism in two regions of the United Kingdom found the prevalence of hypothyroidism prevalence was almost two times higher in the fluoridated area as in the unfluoridated one. Critics have challenged the study design and argued that other confounding factors should have been accounted for. A 2017 Canadian report using data from the Canadian Health Measures Survey (CHMS) found no association between fluoride exposure and incidence of reported thyroid disorders in fluoridated communities. Other research has found some correlation between fluoride exposure and elevated or lowered levels of different thyroid hormones.

Burden of Proof

The coalition that petitioned the EPA in 2016 has since filed a complaint with the U.S. district court in northern California calling for a new review of the evidence. If the court decides that water fluoridation indeed poses an “unreasonable risk” of harm, it can require the EPA to ban the addition of fluoride to drinking water supplies. The EPA has filed a motion to dismiss the case. Plaintiffs have requested a trial they expect to take place in 2018.

Challenging the status quo on chemical safety has become increasingly difficult, says Bruce Lanphear, a public health researcher at Simon Fraser University whose work focuses on disease and disability prevention. The evidence required to alter policy, he says, has risen dramatically in the last several decades, thanks in part to powerful industry lobbies.
Lanphear urges public health officials to reconsider long-held assumptions as science yields results that call them into question. Lanphear urges public health officials to reconsider long-held assumptions as science yields results that call them into question. Scientists used to believe there was a safe threshold of exposure for virtually all chemicals. In the case of compounds such as lead and benzene, Lanphear says, “the evidence suggests that assumption is no longer valid,” with “proportionately greater harms at lower levels” of exposure. Further, he explains, our bodies are “bombarded” by a huge range of chemicals that may collectively predispose us to greater risk of disease. While each individual toxicant may have a limited impact on health, when combined they could greatly increase the risk of negative health effects.

At present, many focused on preventing tooth decay are not persuaded of fluoride’s health risks, while fluoridation opponents argue sufficient evidence exists of fluoride’s negative effects on the body that far outweigh its marginal benefit to teeth. As research on fluoride continues to clarify its biological effects and litigation pushes government to reconsider policy, governing bodies, communities, and individuals may find themselves grappling anew with how to weigh the potential benefits of fluoride with its possible harms to human health. View Ensia homepage
 Editor’s note: Susannah Shmurak produced this feature as a participant in the Ensia Mentor Program.