|Written by Richard A. Kunin, M.D.|
DELUSION AND DENIAL
In the previous two installments of the ABCDEF of Fluoridation I have described the dangers due to the accumulation of fluoride in our bodies, bone cancer in young men, bone fractures in our senior citizens, and a variety of diseases, especially digestive and skeletal that seem to be on the increase. How can we pretend there is NO risk? But that is exactly what almost all health professionals are forced to do. They are presented the same one-sided information as everyone else: that fluoride is an essential mineral (which is not proved); that it reduces dental caries by 60 percent (which has never been verified) and that there is no danger to the public (which is clearly untrue).
If health professionals publicly disagree with this view, they are subject to peer review, censure, loss of job and loss of license. Remember, doctors and dentists practice at the pleasure of the state. In some quarters it is considered “unprofessional” for a doctor or dentist to criticize a public health measure, such as fluoridation. And unprofessional practice is often punished by loss of license.
Few are eager to chance it and fewer still care to research the scientific information and draw their own conclusions. Thus they live and practice in ignorance of the facts in this vital area, one that affects many other facets of medical practice. Some delude themselves that medical science is above politics; they deny that they could be misinformed or that the Public Health Service and National Institute of Health could be wrong for fifty years. Denial is a protective mechanism for these busy people and I quarrel only with their arrogance, not their fear.
However, it is a different matter when confronted with a professional pro-fluoridationist, as I was when I recently presented my views as an invited speaker at Loma Linda University Medical School, department of Public Health. Naturally, the audience was mostly pro-fluoridation. My opposite number on the panel, who happened also to be a major influence on the California legislature regarding AB 733, the fluoridation bill, began his talk with a ten point critique of the anti-fluoridationists, by calling us: “the unprincipled opposition.” He did not go on from there to defend fluoridation. His was a qualitative, not a quantitative essay. There was nothing to argue about since he presented no data to validate his name-calling. His approach can at best be termed “righteous.”
And why not feel righteous when you think you are on the right side. Public opinion is best measured in tooth-paste sales: 95 percent of toothpaste sold in America today is fluoridated. The acceptance of this type of product is almost complete. The power of health product advertising is evidently overwhelming when it is in line with the message of the Public Health Service and the dental-medical establishment. In addition, there is almost no competing advertising for non-fluoridated products.
Would an advertiser be allowed to extol the benefits of non-fluoridated tooth-paste? First, he would have to prove some danger to fluoride, a feat that no one has been able to get by the FDA to date. Has anyone ever told you that fluoridated toothpaste contains 1000 to 1500 times MORE concentrated fluoride than fluoridated water! That the amount of fluoride in a 10 oz. tube of fluoridated toothpaste is sufficient to KILL a child under about age six years old! That the fluoride is so irritating that some people get sore tongue, gums and lips. That calls to poison control centers from mothers whose children get sick (mostly digestive ills) after using fluoridated products number in the thousands each year.
Many people, adults and children alike, brush their teeth more than once a day, usually covering the bristles with a ribbon of toothpaste. A pea-sized gob contains about 1 mg of fluoride; but most folks use four to five times more. I have found many of my patients using dentifrice as a mouthwash and breath-freshener, not knowing that the fluoride binds and absorbs substantially through the mucous membranes. I have found children who like the taste so well that they actually eat from the toothpaste tube. Knowing what you now know, do you think that is safe? In India, they put a warning on the tube: “Not for children under age six.”
E = EFFLUENT
Less than 1 percent of fluoridated water enters the human body. The other 99 percent runs out of our pipes and into our sewers as hazardous waste, polluting the environment. Freshwater fish can’t survive in water with fluoride over 0.2 ppm concentration and many saltwater species succumb at fluoride over 0.5 ppm. Of course, they don’t drink the water; they live in it. It is now recognized that the near-extinction of the salmon population in the once-mighty Columbia River of Washington is due to fluoride, not failure of the carefully designed by-passes whereby fish can ascend to their ancestral spawning places. Sewage discharge into the Columbia is particularly high in fluoride because of industrial effluent containing fluoride. But the plight of the fish ought to tell us to beware of the low margin of safety of fluoride.
Plant life is also sensitive to fluoride at low concentration. Diminished production of both chlorophyll and carotene are well documented in crops exposed to fluoride at 0.6 ppm. Think of that next time you water your lawn and it comes up less than green, or water your garden and it doesn’t grow nearly as well as after a natural rainfall.
All of the foregoing reflects on the general ignorance about the far-reaching effects and toxic danger of fluoride. Are health professionals so slow-witted as to be taken in? I am afraid so. But it is not all their fault, because they can’t possibly review all the data in such a technical subject unless it becomes a major focus in their career. That’s what experts are for, but unfortunately the experts (I am not paid to do this) are operating at the same snail’s pace in dealing with the medical facts about fluoridation as they have been in using the flood of positive findings about nutrition and health. It has taken almost 30 years to convince FDA to permit folic acid in multivitamin supplements and add it to the food enrichment, even though deficiency has been known to cause birth defects all this time.
Fluoride toxicity is subtle because it takes longer for the bad effects to show up; still one would expect more doctors and dentists to at least look into the facts. Perhaps many practitioners have suspected fluoride toxicity at some time or other. If so, how could they go about verifying such a diagnosis? Most likely they would be confronted with a patient whose medical history points to fluoride exposure, i.e. thirst, backache, tendon pain, intestinal gas, acid stomach, chronic fatigue and excessive intake of fluoridated water or tea (which is high in fluoride in its own right). The doctor might then write a laboratory order for fluoride measurement in blood or urine. But the laboratories are often in error and report a normal or low fluoride when it may be much higher. How is a doctor supposed to know about that?! I have personally talked to the directors of several medical laboratories and none of them knew that the standard ion-electrode test for fluoride often delivers a false reading, up to five times too low! They admit that fluoride testing is so seldom ordered by doctors that even the largest reference laboratories lack familiarity with the fine points.
I must admit that I, myself, didn’t know about this until over 20 years after I was first awakened to the danger of fluoride. While reviewing my files in preparation for my testimony before the California Legislature, opposing the fluoridation bill, I came across a technical paper by my own medical school professor of biochemistry, Dr. Wallace Armstrong. Partly out of nostalgia, I read the entire paper. What a shock! There was the answer to decades of confusion about my frequent inability to verify the diagnosis of fluoride toxicity by laboratory means. Repeatedly, the urine fluoride test would fail to match my patient’s history of recent excessive intake.
Dr. Armsrong was an ardent pro-fluoridationist and was instrumental in making Minneapolis one of the early cities to accept fluoridation 50 years ago. It was almost two decades later before he and his associate, Leon Singer, published their research[i] which revealed the potential for error in the common laboratory test for fluoride, a test that relies on an ion-specific electrode. They found that un-ashed samples yielded erroneous results, up to five times too low, because the ion electrode only measures water soluble fluoride and not protein bound and insoluble forms, which include calcium fluoride and other mineral fluorides.
This explained my failure to confirm fluoride toxicity in many of the patients whose urine samples I sent to the laboratory over the years. Fluorides are so insoluble that unless the tissue sample is ashed, heated to 1000 – 2000 degrees, the fluoride crystals fail to ionize. Singer and Armstrong published this discovery in 1969, almost two decades after they had begun to promote fluoridation of water, which gives you some idea of how long it takes to get things right in science.
In 1974 I studied hair fluoride levels in 300 of my patients. Luckily, these were performed by the toxicology laboratory, of the late Professor Charles Hine, where the samples were properly ashed and measured by atomic absorption spectro-photometry. Since fluoridation in San Francisco, at 1 part per million, was begun 20 years earlier, I expected to find an average of 1 part per million in the hair of my patients; and in fact that was so. However, eleven patients were much higher than that, having fluoride from 5 to 20 parts per million. All of these eleven patients had medical symptoms: low back pain, headache, depression, thyroid nodules, chronic fatigue–much like the cases I had read about.
In 1983 I measured urine fluorides in a consecutive dozen patients. Four patients had fluoride over 3 parts per million in their urine. Because not all fluoride is excrted in the urine, some being lost via the stools, it is usual to estimate total daily intake by multiplying 24 hour urine fluoride output by 1.5. That factors out to 4.5 mg per day, which is what the National Academy of Science tells us is a common intake these days. Judging by the laboratory error factor, however, I strongly suspect that for some the actual fluoride results were higher.
If fluoride was high in 1983, it is not less so in 1996. The background from all sources is increasing to such an extent that everyone with chronic medical symptoms has to consider fluoride as a probable cause, even before nutrient imbalance. There is no escape now from mass fluoridation. Knowledge of the health risks is a help; but how does one limit intake in a society which presents this toxic substance in all of our water, processed juices, soft drinks, tea, coffee, soup, all restaurant meals and breakfast cereals. To complicate matters, we now know that fluoride leaches extra lead out of the pipes, aluminum out of pots and pans, and increases our exposure to these toxic metals along with its own accumulating burden. In addition, many cities use industrial waste fluoride, which is always contaminated with heavy metals, including uranium. It is impossible to predict the lifetime impact of multiple metal fluoride exposure, but as a rule exposure to multiple toxic substances is more dangerous than single exposures.
If all this is too depressing, take hope from the fact that, at alkaline pH fluoride passes through the kidneys more readily and this favors detoxification. If you are not inclined to a low fat, low protein, alkaline type-vegetarian type, the use of “buffered” vitamin C or some other form of bicarbonate of soda after meals is helpful (but no more than 2 teaspoonfuls per day of bicarbonate please). Mineral supplements, especially calcium and boron, bind fluoride into the stools, thus limiting absorption. The Chinese used borax to line their wells thousands of years ago in high fluoride areas. They didn’t know about fluoride, of course, but they did know about arthritis, fatigue, acid stomach and indigestion.
If all the above seems like too much trouble then there are only three things to do: 1) Lobby your assemblyperson to rescind AB 733. 2) Eat organic foods whenever possible (pesticide residues are high in fluoride) and 3) distill your water (the currently available filters don’t remove fluoride). And finally, carry a flask of pure water wherever you go. I am doing just that myself because otherwise I get “lumbago,”: a stiff lower back, after just a few days on vacation at fluoridated “watering holes,” such as, Aspen, Palm Springs, Maui and on visits to my boyhood home, Minneapolis.
Fluoridation at the recommended 1 part per million dose causes damage to cells that produce the dentin and enamel during the development of our teeth. Mild cases show up as unsightly dull or brown spots, mottling, of the enamel of the permanent teeth. Moderate cases are identified by pitting of the enamel due to defects in the dentin, the inner core of the tooth. In severe cases the teeth are stained and deformed and more susceptible to caries. Mottling affects 10 to 80 percent of children living in fluoridated American cities. The high incidence cities have a high rate of unnecessary fluoride prescribing by physicians. Diet plays a big role in fluorosis also, as Drs. Massler and Schour found when they compared Joliet, Illinois with Quarto, Italy after World War II[ii]. These two cities had identical water fluoride, 1.3 parts per million; however the Italian children suffered mottling at a rate of 60 percent, compared to “only” 25 percent of the American children. The researchers concluded: “The higher index of mottling in Italy may be explained on the basis of difference in nutritional status. It appears that as the nutritional status is lowered, the cells (ameloblasts) which are responsible for the formation and calcification of the enamel become more susceptible to the deleterious action of fluorine.”
The pro-fluoridation view today is that fluorosis is not a disease but only a cosmetic problem. This is a terribly superficial idea of fluorosis, for it fails to acknowledge the much greater concentration of fluoride in bone, which causes even greater damage, e.g. osteoporosis and cancer. And it also overlooks the very plausible idea that fluorosis affects collagen throughout the body, not just in teeth and bones but also in the skin and connective tissues. Dr. John Yiamouyiannis sub-titled his most recent book on fluoride “The Aging Factor” and, indeed, severe fluorosis resembles premature aging: dull and stained teeth, stooped posture due to arthritis of the spine, halting movements due to joint pains, and excessive wrinkling of the skin.
Tyranny is something done to you by someone more powerful, and without regard to your personal rights. When a law rams something down your throat, violating your personal health, this is fascism, even if it is well-intentioned. Assemblywoman Speier and Governor Wilson joined forces for the good but against the Will of the People of California who have repeatedly rejected fluoridation. Until now only 17 percent of California cities had accepted fluoridation. Most of the time, when the voting public are properly informed about the questionable benefits and certain risks of fluoridation, they vote against. I am forced to the reluctant conclusion that our legislative leaders, of both parties, have been duped by pro-fluoridation lobbyists. They have become reluctant fascists–for our own good!
Who are these lobbyists? They are those who stand to gain the most from mandatory fluoridation. 1) The fertilizer and aluminum industries generate fluoride wastes. These wastes make up most of the chemical fluorides that are placed in our water. Instead of paying over $7000 per truckload to dump the industrial waste fluorides in specially secure dump-sites (fluoride can eat through glass and concrete), the industrialists instead are paid hundreds of dollars per load to sell these toxic wastes as mass medication. 2) The American Dental Association, dominates a docile profession. Dentists are still using mercury fillings despite the high risk of intestinal disorder, auto-immune disease, and neurological symptoms. The risk of harm to patients is certain. And the risk of persecution is considerable if dentists dare to remove such fillings and work with safer materials. For a dentist to speak against fluoridation is considered an equally unprofessional act; and dentists don’t want to talk about it or against it. Thus, the ADA, a professional society, is censoring the information and the opinions of its own members. 3) The United States Public Health Service seems to be equally status quo regarding the toxicology of fluoride. There is a lot of money and prestige at stake. Bureaucrats are understandably afraid to offend wealthy and powerful industrial interests. They are also reluctant to admit they have been promoting a pseudo-scientific program for over fifty years.
Those who speak up are intimidated or fired outright. Dr. William Marcus was lucky to win his job back, even though he was in the right and had served with distinction for 25 years at the United States Environmental Protection Agency. If we want direct and honest answers we have to ask the researchers after they have retired. Dr. Burk was very outspoken–after he retired. And so was Dr. Hubert Arnold, a retired professor of statistics at University of California at Davis. He wrote to a fluoridation advocate at UC San Francisco, who had called Dr. Arnold regarding his class on how to recognize statistical frauds. His comments were refreshingly direct:
“The announced opinions and published research papers favoring mechanical fluoridation of public drinking water are especially rich in fallacies, improper design, invalid use of statistical methods, omissions of contrary data, and just plain muddleheadedness and hebetude…By the way, a study by John Yiamouyiannis and Dean Burk on possible connection between cancer and waterborne fluoride was fairly tightly reasoned. The statistical procedures were standard, and much better applied than in much of the Public Health work.”
It may surprise you to know that fluoride has never been approved by our Food and Drug Administration for any medical purpose. A forthright legislator, Assemblyman John V. Kelly of the New Jersey General Assembly wrote to the FDA Commissioner in 1993:
“My concern originated from a report that the New Jersey Department of Health had conducted a study and found the incidence of osteosarcoma to be significantly higher in fluoridated communities versus non-fluoridated ones…The Food and Drug Administration Office of Prescription Drug Compliance has confirmed, to my surprise, that there are no studies to demonstrate either the safety or effectiveness of these drugs, which FDA classifies as unapproved new drugs. The presence of these drugs on the market at this time appears to be contrary to the 1962 amendment to the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, which requires prescription drug applications to provide evidence of effectiveness and the 1938 amendment requiring evidence of safety. There does not appear to be any scientific or legal reason for these products to be on the market at this time.”
Statewide mandatory fluoridation was approved by the California legislature and signed into law by Governor Wilson over 2 years after this letter was written. No resolution of the bastard state of fluoride as a mass medication has been accomplished. The controversy goes on. We are all potential victims–of the well-meaning arrogance of our health establishment and governmental officials.
Become informed and protect yourself and your community. For more information: http://keepersofthewell.com/on_point.html
Written by Richard A. Kunin, M.D
1. AB 733,
The California fluoridation bill became new law in California, as of January 1, 1996. This foolish law mandates fluoride treatment of all California public and private water supplies serving over 10,000 consumers. At a time when we have had our “green revolution,” environmentalism, to rescue our polluted planet; at a time when our EPA cannot accomplish their charge, the cleaning up of thousands of toxic waste sites, we now have the California state government dumping toxic fluorides into our public water supplies and thence into our bodies. We, ourselves, have become toxic waste dumps!
The fluoridation bill was authored by Assemblywoman Jackie Speier and skillfully ushered through the legislative process last summer without fanfare, and signed by Governor Pete Wilson in September, 1995. Unless you buy non-fluoridated bottled water or distill (not filter) your own tap water, you are going to ingest an excessive amount of fluoride in your drinking water, coffee, soup and boiled foods for the rest of your life, wherever you go in California. There is no escape–except to repeal AB 733!
Until now the voters in Los Angeles, Sacramento and San Jose have refused to join San Francisco, San Diego and Oakland in fluoridation. In fact, 76 other municipalities have rejected fluoridation and only one out of six Californians drinks fluoridated tap water. However most of us do get fluoride in mineral waters, soft drinks and reconstituted juices, almost all of which are made with fluoridated water! In fact, since artificial waters now represent more than half the water intake of the average American, it is totally unnecessary to fluoridate the water supply for the purpose of medicating the population. We are already fluoridated via our soft drinks–not to mention toothpaste. In fact, our food supply is now so full of fluoride that the average American is overdosed already without drinking any tap water at all.
I hope to make clear the main reasons I oppose fluoridation of the public water supply and that is why I have chosen the alphabet A-G to order the basic ideas. Because I am a physician, my mind is trained to consider public health interventions in terms of benefits and risks. Fluoride has been sold to physicians, dentists and our politicians as all benefit and no risk. It is supposed to reduce dental caries by 60 percent and cause no adverse effects. Not so.
After 50 years the statistics tell a different story: a possible benefit, but at most 20 percent, far less than the 60 percent reduction in caries touted by the proponents. There appears to be a narrow therapeutic window for fluoride in water at a concentration between 0.2 and 0.5 parts per million. This is more than 50 percent lower than the 1 part per million dose (1 milligram per liter of water) recommended as “optimal” by the public health establishment.
On the other hand the dangers of fluoridation are not to be ignored. Lives have been ruined and a few have been lost because fluoride also has a narrow window of safety. The EPA classifies fluoride as a contaminant when it is present in water at concentrations of 4 parts per million. In other words, at just four times the “optimal” concentration, fluoride is acknowledged a pollutant–a poison. But it is not just the concentration of fluoride that makes it dangerous, it is the actual amount ingested that counts. Some people actually drink four times more water than the usual 1 to 2 liters per day. Athletes, joggers, laborers, diabetics, those with diabetes insipidus, and even some healthy people living in hot climates. For them fluoride is not controversial. It is a poison.
Kidney damage reduces the ability of the kidney tubules to rid the body of fluoride and there are over 13 million of our countrymen with acute and chronic kidney[i] disease. Most of them don’t know until late in the disease that they have partial renal failure. The routine chemical tests don’t reveal this until the kidneys are about 70 percent non-functional. Is it fair to these millions of people to force them to ingest a toxic substance that they are unable to get rid of; one that will inevitably accumulate in their tissues and cause symptoms?
This build-up of fluoride in the tissues affects everyone, not just those with kidney disease. This is the main difference between fluoride and chlorine: over the years the amount of fluoride in our bones increases over a thousand-fold, and in some areas of our brain over ten-fold. Chlorine, on the other hand, does not build up in our tissues and so we accept fluoride as if it is comparable. It is not. In the first place, chlorine is life-saving: it prevents epidemics of dysentary that would cripple our cities and kill our children and our elderly. Thus, even though chlorination contributes to colon cancer, the trade-off has been worth it.
But fluoridation is a different matter. Its purpose is the preservation of teeth, not life. How well does it work? The demonstrated dental benefit in 39,000 school children, comparing lifetime fluoridated to non-fluoridated water, comes to about a half of one tooth surface out of 128 surfaces per 28 teeth[ii]. Not much to brag about. And, unlike chlorine, that passes through the body quickly, fluoride is largely retained and gradually accumulates with age, particularly in the bones, aorta and brain. These just happen to be three areas that bear the brunt of aging, in the form of osteoporosis, arteriosclerosis, and Alzheimer’s disease. Fluoride has been shown to advance the aging process in all three areas!
1. BIRTH DEFECTS.
No time for accumulation in the few months in utero; but fluoride affects the developing fetus adversely. Spina bifida was studied in two groups of 5 to 12 year old children, living in high fluoride areas of India with 4.5 and 8.5 parts per million of fluoride. All the children had fluorosis, either mottled teeth or skeletal pain. Compared to a control group of matched children from a low fluoride area (1.5 parts per million) the high fluoride children had almost four times more spina bifida defects (44 percent vs 12 percent).[iii] Consider the fact that the World Health Organization permissible limit is 1.5; while the United States EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) equivalent is 4.0 parts per million.
Decreased birth rates have long been observed in association with fluoridation. For example, in cattle subjected to fluoridated water at only 5 parts per million and for only four breeding seasons, the rate of births dropped to 30 percent of normal. Fluoride crosses the placenta and causes both fetal death and damage to the placenta. Thus various laboratory studies at low exposure levels have found low birth weight, delayed fetal skeletal development and delayed postnatal development in animals. Only recently, however, has the work been extended to humans.[iv]
Dr. Freni reviewed birth rates in counties with fluoride levels above 3 parts per million. The annual total fertility rate for women age 10-49 was calculated for the period 1970-1988 in 30 regions spread out over nine states. Most regions showed an association of decreasing fertility with increasing fluoride levels. This was statistically very significant, with only a 0.0002 probability (2 in 10 thousand) of occurring by chance.
Fluoride accumulates in bone more than any other tissue. Children normally have negligible amounts but over a lifetime, in fluoridated areas, this increases dramatically, up to several thousands of micrograms per gram of bone in adults. There is evidence that up to about1200 micrograms per gram is optimal, based on actual measurements of bone strength.[v] This amount of fluoride is found in normal adults in areas where water contains 0.5 parts per million fluoride,.[vi] We can expect considerably more accumulation of fluoride in our bones here in California now that our water is to be fluoridated at 1 part per million.
A very recent study in two dozen elderly women treated with fluoride for osteoporosis and vertebral fracture[vii]. found a 50 percent loss of bone strength and a huge increase in bone fluoride content after 5 years. Until 1988 there were still some advocates for sodium fluoride therapy at doses up to 80 mg per day (containing 35 mg fluoride), ie. about 8 times more than the expected intake in fluoridated areas. Despite the increased hip fractures and stomach irritation from fluoride therapy, even when offset by vitamin D and calcium supplements, the bone doctors had claimed good results and without adverse consequences. That made it difficult to persuade anyone that water fluoridation at only 1 ppm might be unsafe.
All that has changed in the past several years due to a number of research reports that document significant increases in hip fractures in elderly men and women. I am most impressed by a study of 3777 French men and women, who had lived in their respective rural parishes for an average of 41 years. In comparing those ingesting less than 0.11 parts per million fluoride to those above that and up to 1.83 parts per million, there was an almost double incidence of hip fracture above 0.11 parts per million. What stands out is the fact that low levels of fluoride, only a tenth of the amount in fluoridated California water, when ingested over a lifetime, may be more hazardous than anyone knew.
It really shouldn’t be such a surprise. A careful research of copper, manganese and zinc levels in rats on fluoridated water at zero, 10 or 25 parts per million found the copper levels in bone reduced by almost half after only ten months intake of the high fluoridated water.[viii] The authors remarked that “if sufficient copper is not available to bone, the cross-linking of bone collagen is impaired due to reduced activity of the enzyme, lysyl oxidase..” This highlights the fact that osteoporosis is not due to deficiency of calcium alone, but also other minerals, particularly copper. And fluoride may aggravate osteoporosis, not only by direct toxic effects on bone cells that manufacture collagen, but also by binding and depleting bone copper and other minerals that participate in collagen synthesis and mineralization.
I testified against AB 733, the fluoridation bill, at the California Assembly in June 1995 and I also spoke with a number of the legislators individually. They found it hard to believe that their experts and advisors could be wrong about fluoride. Some actually requested that we not discuss any scientific data because they would only hear rebuttal from the proponents. In other words, they asked me to not confuse them with the facts! There was a snicker when Dr. John Yiamouyiannis, a world authority on fluoridation, testified that he had to invoke the Freedom of Information Act in order to get access to government data on fluoride. The legislators seemed to have their minds made up in advance. But who are they going to believe, a citizens group or the medical-dental-governmental health establishment?
Jackie Speier went so far as to challenge the validity of a recent research study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. This study by Drs. Danielson, Lyon and others in 1992 reported a double rate of hip fracture in men over age 80 and women over age 75, in association with a 20 year exposure to fluoride in drinking water at just 1 part per million.[ix]
Ms. Speier had said: “if you read the study in its entirety, the authors freely admit to looking at no other risk factors and, in fact relied solely on hospital discharge data.” Dr. Lyon was so offended by this that he wrote a letter to the Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee: “Ms. Speier’s statement that we examined no other risk factors is in error…Our study was prompted by increased risk of hip fractures observed in patients treated for osteoporosis with higher doses…of fluoride…We wondered if the same effect might be seen at fluoride levels introduced into the public drinking water…That we found an association was a surprise to us all. This association has been replicated by a group in France in a much larger population. This raises the question of an unintended side effect to fluoridating public water supplies. Our group still stands by its conclusion..”
The cost of a doubled rate of hip fracture is substantial.[x] American women over age 45 years are currently suffering over 250,000 such injuries per year and functional impairment affects 90 percent of the cases and with medical costs of almost 4 billion dollars per year! Worse yet one in four of those injured by hip fracture dies as a result. If fluoride really does account for half of all that misery and expense, isn’t that sufficient reason to stop fluoridation and seek a less dangerous way to improve dental health?
A study of 687 Downs (retarded) children found a double risk of this genetic defect in communities with 1 part per million water fluoride. Statistical analysis posits a probability of less than 1 in 125,000 that the observation was due to chance. The average age of the mothers of these children was over 3 years less in the higher fluoride areas. A later study of 148 cases found almost three times more Down’s cases in 12 cities with water fluoride at 1 to 2.6 parts per million as compared to 15 cities free of fluoride. The age of the mothers was lower in the high fluoride cities, so the damage was not due to age.
A Harvard team found behavior changes related to sex and age at exposure in fetal rats. Males were most sensitive if exposed 17 to 19 days before birth; females were more sensitive at weaning. The severity of behavioral effects, such as decreased attention, grooming and movement was directly related to fluoride concentrations in specific brain regions. The blood levels measured in these laboratory animals (0.059 to 0.640) are similar to those in humans exposed to 5-10 parts per million fluoride in drinking water, not much more than many humans consume. The team concluded that fluoride may cause learning disability, lowered intelligence and motor impairment.[xi]
Lowered intelligence was observed in people living in areas of China where medium or severe fluorosis[xii] is common. Another short report from China referred to neurologic effects from fluoride: “We have seen some patients with high body fluoride levels and unclassified nervous lesion of unknown aetiology. After removal from the higher fluoride exposure, fluoride in their body fluid decreased and their symptoms improved[xiii].
In another paper they found lower levels of fluoride in the cerebrospinal fluid than in blood.[xiv] This suggests activity of a mechanism that keeps excess fluoride from entering the brain. However, we know that fluoride ion readily combines with three aluminum ions, producing aluminum fluoride, a potent mimic of G proteins, which regulate nerve cell activity, particularly in opiate and other neurotransmitter receptors, and in the hypothalamus. Thus fluoride interacts with the regulation of pain, mood and nerve activity in general. Could this explain the increased rate of Alzheimer’s dementia that seems to be epidemic now?
A recent poster report at the Society for Neuroscience reported on the work of Drs. Varner, Isaacson and others with sodium and aluminum fluorides in rats. Both agents caused damage to the brain hippocampal formations (memory), but the aluminum fluoride group showed more impairment. This confirms the fact that aluminum fluoride is more toxic to the brain than fluoride alone; however amyloid deposits, characteristic of Alzheimer’s and other nerve degenerations, were found in the integrative centers of the thalamus in both groups.
Fluoride and aluminum have a biological influence on nerve cells, as we have just seen. They also have a chemical interaction with each other that magnifies their activity. Researchers in Sri Lanka conducted an experiment to determine the rate of leaching of aluminum from cooking pots[xv]. The presence of fluoride at only 1 part per million, when combined with mild acids, pH 3, about the same as vinegar, liberated nearly 200 parts per million of aluminum in 10 minutes. In the absence of fluoride the pot released only 0.2 parts per million, ie. 1000 times less. Prolonged boiling produced a concentration of 600 parts per million, 3000 times more than control level. A couple of tablespoonfuls of tomatoes were sufficiently acid to increase the aluminum in a cup of fluoridated water to 150 parts per million in just 10 minutes. Kitchen fluoride reactions, with fruit compote, soups made with vinegar, and coffee, all dramatically increase both fluoride and aluminum availability. Does fluoridation of water contribute to the epidemic of Alzheimer’s and senility that we are now experiencing? If we must ask the question, we shouldn’t be adding fluoride to our water.
Enzymes are regulators of chemical reactions in living cells. A number of enzymes are disabled by fluoride at very low concentrations, less than 1 mg per liter (1 part per million) of tissue fluid or blood. For example, cell membrane energy transport relies on ATPase, which is inhibited at fluoride concentrations as low as 0.2 ppm. Other phosphatases, which regulate the release of energy from sugars and fats, are also inhibited in the presence of low levels of fluoride. Other enzymes, such as DNA repair enzymes (prevent aging and cancer), Glutamine synthetase (vital for removal of ammonia from tissues), and Acetyl-cholinesterase (to dispose of used neuro-transmitters at the synapse) are all impaired by fluoride at less than 1 part per million concentration. Blood levels of fluoride are commonly over 0.5 parts per million and other tissues even higher: kidney w.e, lung 2.1, thyroid 4.0, pancreas 1.7, brain 1.5 and bone, of course, up into the thousands of parts per million.
I warned of the enzyme-inhibiting effects of fluoride before hearings of the Environmental Protection Agency in 1984 but was unprepared to rebut when the EPA expert claimed that tissue levels of fluoride were far too low to have an effect. I should have known better because I was aware of a double blind study in humans that clearly demonstrated enzyme inhibition by fluoride at 1 ppm, the amount in California water. Dr. John Lee measured the serum bilirubin levels in his patients with Gilbert’s Syndrome, a mild jaundice due to hereditary weakness in the enzyme, UDP glucuronysyl transferase.[xvi] The weakened enzyme falls behind in the task of solubilizing bilirubin for excretion in the bile. Fluoride inhibits the enzyme further and thus causes a significant back-log of unexcreted bilirubin within two weeks of regular intake of fluoridated water. When fluoridated water is discontinued the enzyme activity improves, bilirubin excretion increases and the level of bilirubin in the blood goes back down.[xvii]
How does fluoride inhibit enzymes? It is tempting to think that it reacts with metal catalysts, such as manganese, magnesium and selenium, and perhaps this is part of the answer. But it has only been recognized since 1981, 35 years after the beginning of fluoridation, that fluoride forms a very strong bond with the hydrogen atoms of proteins and nucleic acids.[xviii] This type of chemical reaction enables fluoride to alter the shape of many enzymes, which are made from proteins; and it leads also to fluoride bonding with hydrogen bonds of nucleic acids, thus damaging the structure of DNA, the gene material. If the gene repair enzymes are efficient, the damage is almost instantly repaired. However fluoride interferes with these enzymes also, which further increases the likelihood of genetic damage and cancer.
Here is where ‘A’ for accumulation of fluoride is especially important. In 1939, before fluoridation, human tissue fluoride levels were below 1 PPM. By 1965 they had risen to 1.5 PPM in brain and in 1983 the medulla and midbrain were measured over 10 PPM[xix], more than sufficient to disrupt the biochemistry and vitality of the nerve cells. Of course, bone cells accumulate up to a thousand times more fluoride and that is why they are so much more vulnerable to the cancer causing effect of fluoride.
[i] Surgeon General Koop, Research America, The Scientist, Nov. 12, 1990.
[ii] Brunelle JA, Carlos JP; Recent trends in dental caries in US children and the effect of water fluoridation. 1990, J DENT RES, 69: 723-727.
[iii] Gupta SK, Gupta RC et al. increased incidence of spina bifida occulta in fluorosis prone areas. 1995; Acta Paediatrica Japonica, 37(4):503-6.
[iv] Freni SC: Exposure to high fluoride concentrations in drinking water is associated with decreased birth rates. 1994; J of Tox and Env Health, 42:109-121.
[v] Turner CH, Akhter MP, Heaney RP: The effect of fluoridated water on bone strength. 1992; J Orthop Res 10:581-587.
[vi] Richards A, Mosekilde L, Sogaard CH: Normal age-related changes in fluoride content of vertebral trabecular bone–Relation to bone quality. 19194; Bone, 15:21-26.
[vii] Sogaard CH, Mosekilde Li, Richards A, Mosekilde Le: Marked decrease in trabecular bone quality after five years of sodium fluoride therapy–assessed by biomechanical testing of iliac crest bone biopsies in osteoporotic patients. 1994, Bone, 15 (4):393-399.
[viii] Singh M and Kanwar KC. Effect of fluoride on copper, manganese and zinc in bone and kidney. 1981, Bull Environ Contam Toxicol, 26: 428-431.
[ix] Danielson C, Lyon JL, Egger ME, Goodenough J; ;Hip fractures and fluoridation in Utah’s elderly population. 1995, JAMA, 268:773-748.
[x] Chrischilles E, Shireman T, Wallace R. costs and health effects of osteoporotic fractures. 1994, Bone 15 (4) 377-386.
[xi] Mullenix PJ, Denbesten PK et al. Neurotoxicity of sodium fluoride in rats. 1995, Neurotox and Teratol, 17:169-177.
[xii] Li J, Zhi L, Gao RO. Effect of fluoride exposure on intelligence in children. 1995, Fluoride (28)189-192.
[xiii] Hu Yu-huan. Direct damage on nervous system by fluorosis. 1982, First Conference on Neuropsychiatric Diseases in Xinjian. 86-8.
[xiv] Hu Yuu-Huan, Wu Si-Shung; Fluoride in Cerebrospinal fluid of patients with fluorosis. 1988, J of Neurol, Neurosurg, and Psychiatry, 51:1591-1593.
[xv] Tennakone K, Wickramanayake, S. Aluminium leaching from cooking utensils; 1987, Nature, 325:2092.
[xvi] Bosma PJ, Chowdhury JR et al: The genetic basis of the reduced expression of bilirubin UDP-glucuronosyltransferase 1 in Gilbert’s Syndrome. 1995, NEJM 333:1171-5
[xvii] Lee J: Gilbert’s disease and fluoride intake. 1983, Floride 16:139-45.
[xviii] Emsley J: Fluoride forms hydrogen bonds.
[xix] Chan AWK, Minski MJ, Lai JCK: An application of neutron activation analysis to small biological samples: simultaneous determination of thirty elements in rat brain regions. 1983; J of Neurosci Methods, 7: 317-328.