The Dangers of Fluoride and
by Michael Schachter M.D., F.A.C.A.M.
Approximately half of the United States' drinking water supply is fluoridated in
an attempt to reduce dental cavities in children. Is this state of affairs
justified? Is it safe?
Most Americans are unaware of the dangers of ingesting fluoride.
Most dentists, physicians and scientists are unaware of the dangers of fluoride
and water fluoridation. According to a 1988 article in the prestigious Chemical
and Engineering News, scientific voices of opposition to fluoridation have been
suppressed, since 1950 when the U.S. Public Health Service first endorsed
fluoridation. Power tactics including threats, ridicule and frank censorship
aimed at scientists and clinicians knowledgeable about fluoridation have
prevented the truth about fluoride to be disseminated to the science world as
well as to the public. Whenever a public agency is charged with objectively
evaluating the safety of a procedure while at the same time endorsing and
recommending it, a serious conflict of interest is set up. This is exactly the
position of the U.S. Public Health Service for the past 60 years.
Facts About Fluoride
So, what are some of the facts about fluoride? According to the handbook,
Clinical Toxicology of Commercial Products, fluoride is more poisonous than lead
and just slightly less poisonous than arsenic. It is a cumulative poison that
accumulates in bone over the years. According to the Physicians Desk Reference,
"in hypersensitive individuals, fluorides occasionally cause skin eruptions
such as atopic dermatitis, eczema, or urticaria. Gastric distress, headache, and
weakness have also been reported. These hypersensitive reactions usually
disappear promptly after discontinuation of the fluoride."
From 1990 to 1992, the Journal of the American Medical Association published
three separate articles linking increased hip fracture rates to fluoride in the
water. In the March 22, 1990 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, Mayo
Clinic researchers reported that fluoride treatment of osteoporosis increased
hip fracture rate and bone fragility.
A study by Procter and Gamble showed that as little as half the amount of
fluoride used to fluoridate public water supplies resulted in a sizable and
significant increase in genetic damage. Epidemiology research in the mid-1970's
by the late Dr. Dean Burk, head of the cytochemistry division of the National
Cancer Institute, indicated that 10,000 or more fluoridation-linked cancer
deaths occur yearly in the United States. In 1989, the ability of fluoride to
transform normal cells into cancer cells was confirmed by Argonne National
Laboratories. Results released in 1989 of studies carried out at the prestigious
Batelle Research Institute showed that fluoride was linked to a rare form of
liver cancer in mice, oral tumors and cancers in rats, and bone cancer in male
rats. Since 1991, the New Jersey Department of Health found that the incidence
of osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer, was far higher in young men exposed to
fluoridated water as compared to those who were not.
In addition to the well documented toxic effects of fluoride, fluoride even
at dosages of 1 part per million, found in artificially fluoridated water, can
inhibit enzyme systems, damage the immune system, contribute to calcification of
soft tissues, worsen arthritis and, of course, cause dental fluorosis in
children. These are unsightly white, yellow or brown spots that are found in
teeth exposed to fluoride during childhood. In 1993, the Subcommittee on Health
Effects of Ingested Fluoride of the National Research Council admitted that 8%
to 51% and sometimes up to 80% of the children living in fluoridated areas have
dental fluorosis. Malnourished people, particularly children, usually targeted
for fluoridation, are at greater risks to experience fluoride's harmful effects.
Surprisingly, the most recent studies do not even show that water
fluoridation is effective in reducing tooth decay. In the largest U.S. study of
fluoridation and tooth decay, United States Public Health Service dental records
of over 39,000 school children, ages 5-17, from 84 areas around the United
States showed that the number of decayed, missing, and filled teeth per child
was virtually the same in fluoridated and non-fluoridated areas. Dr. John
Colquhoun, former Chief Dental Officer of the Department of Health for Auckland,
New Zealand, investigated tooth decay statistics from about 60,000 12 to 13 year
old children and showed that fluoridation had no significant effect on tooth
Given all of this scientific information, what is behind this push for
universal fluoridation? Prior to 1945, fluoride was properly regarded as an
environmental pollutant. It was responsible for many lawsuits against
industries, such as the aluminum industry and the phosphate fertilizer industry,
whose waste products contain large quantities of fluoride. This fluoride
destroyed crops and animals, leading to the lawsuits. The limited public view
was that fluoride was an environmental pollutant that needed to be reduced or
eliminated from the environment.
As a result of clever public relations campaigns, fluoride was transformed
from an environmental pollutant to an essential nutrient necessary for producing
healthy teeth. The science was poor, but the P.R. campaign was great. Being
against fluoride was like being against motherhood or apple pie. Industries not
only made millions from selling this environmental pollutant to water companies
and toothpaste companies, but more importantly, it saved billions of dollars
that would be required to clean up this environmental pollutant.
So, what can you do to protect yourself from fluoride?
fluoridated water. Much of the metropolitan area, including New York City water
is artificially fluoridated. Boiling water removes chlorine, but concentrates
fluoride. Water filters do not remove fluoride, unless there is a reverse
osmosis component. Children should avoid fluoridated vitamins and fluoride
treatments at the dentist. Everyone should avoid fluoridated toothpaste. The
concentration of fluoride in water is 1 ppm, in toothpaste 1,000 ppm and in
fluoride dental rinses 10,000 ppm. Work on your legislators to get fluoride out
of the water supplies.
© 1996 Michael B. Schachter M.D.
The Wall Street Journal recently
(3-23-06) ran an article
reporting on the National Academy of Science's concern about high levels of
fluoride in the nation's drinking water, and that the maximum allowed amount
"should be lowered."