Recently, I discovered a friend of mine has gotten sucked into the anti-fluoridation water movement and I debated him and a few of his friends on Facebook, where I felt I clearly won. But of course, as the saying goes, you can’t reason someone out of a position they didn’t reason their way into in the first place.
But I’ll let my readers be the judge as I lay out the debate (while removing names to protect the innocent).
Person 1’s (my friend) Facebook bulletin:
No one should accept the fact there is fluoride in our drinking water. It is dangerous despite what the government tells you.
I’m going to have to strongly disagree with you on this one. Water fluoridation has significantly decreased tooth decay in the U.S. for the last 65 years. It creates low levels of fluoride in saliva, which reduces the rate at which tooth en…amel demineralizes and increases the rate at which it remineralizes in the early stages of cavities. And while recommended levels of fluoride in tap water range from 0.5 to 1.0 mg/L (milligrams per litre depending on climate, bottled water typically has unknown fluoride levels.
In the legal case “Pure Water Committee of Western Maryland, Inc., et al. v. Mayor and City Council of Cumberland, Maryland, et al.”, an anti-fluoridation group sued the city claiming the defendants deprived them of their Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights by introducing fluoride into public water supplies. This line of argument didn’t get them very far as the defendants moved for summary judgment and the case was dismissed. It was a no-brainer decision as the anti-fluoride crew failed to present evidence that any rights were actually violated. And most of all, they failed to demonstrate that fluoridated water was in any way harmful.
The National Academy of Sciences, the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, the American Medical Association, the World Health Organization, the American Cancer Society, the American Dental Association, the British Royal College of Physicians, the Royal Statistical Society, investigators at Oxford University, and every United States Surgeon General for the past 45 years have all endorsed water fluoridation. And the U.S. Centers for Disease Control included water fluoridation among its list of the ten great public health achievements of the 20th century. Further, after 65 years of use, we’ve yet to see any signs that we’re all being poisoned en mass by our tap water, and millions of sudden poison deaths are not the sort of thing that’s likely to go unnoticed.
Also, 22% of New Jersey residents had been getting fluoride-treated waters from their tap. In Feb. 2009, the NJ Assembly Health Committee approved a bill by a 10-0 vote to require all of New Jersey’s public water supplies be treated with fluoride (http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2009/02/assembly_committee_clears_bill.html).
And in Dec. 2009, the Senate’s health committee passed the bill by a vote of 6-0.
“Jim Schulz of the New Jersey Dental Association chastised the state for ranking 49th in the nation for fluoridating the public water supply, depriving children of a critical health benefit, and urged the bill’s passage.
” ‘Oral health disease is the number one childhood disease in America. It is five times more prevalent that asthma and seven times more prevalent than hay fever,” Schulz said” (http://www.nj.com/news/ledger/jersey/index.ssf?%2Fbase%2Fnews-15%2F1260237907230520.xml&coll=1).
There seems to be no controversy among health professionals. The main critics of fluoridation tend to be lay environmentalists, and the very water companies who’d presumably be left with some of the bill…and of course pathologically paranoid like the “New Jersey Coalition for Vaccine Choice” (http://www.green-talk.com/2009/12/14/nj-citizens-say-no-to-fluoride-in-your-water/).
Dental caries are far down the list on concerns of the effects of fluoride. The small amounts add up. Of course it is not talked about by the Surgeon General, etc. The government uses tap water to dump these harmful chemicals because of failed military use. It is nothing new. They’ve been doing this for decades. And they are currently working on approving “Acceptable Radiation Doses” for water and food. They have no place to dispose of these byproducts anymore. It’s disgusting.
actually you’re all wrong, fluoride does nothing to actual tooth health… good old baking soda and peroxide does. Dental health is down to keeping the teeth clean and free of bacteria, not to mention less sugary foods and of course, saliva production is very important to dental health, so down with fluoride and up with french kissing!
I think I’m going to have to continue to stick with the The National Academy of Sciences, the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, the American Medical Association, the World Health Organization, the American Cancer Society, the American Dental Association, the British Royal College of Physicians, the Royal Statistical Society, investigators at Oxford University, U.S. Center for Disease Control, and every United States Surgeon General for the past 45 years on this one.
These are also organizations that ignore the impact of nutrition, effects of pesticides, hormones, etc. on our bodies. Cancer is all around us in the form of water, food, and the technology we are surrounded by.
exactly. My father brushed his teeth every single day with peroxide & baking soda, he never had a single cavity. Fluoride on the actual teeth OK, the dentist does this twice a year when one goes for a tooth cleaning, but fluoride in your …body 8 times a day, 365 days a year, 40+ years…. although its a natural occurring mineral, it’s not located near food sources, so therefore it’s not something that should be entering the body on a daily basis nor is it an essential mineral needed for good health. (funny you mentioned the CDC… but the CDC is the actually ruled that the benefits of fluoride are topical, not systemic… so on the teeth or outside surface, not in the digestive system.) Fluoride causes tooth discoloration & lowers the IQ level in growing children. Avoid all issues and drink fresh spring water from a well or mineral water (most contain no fluoride) or finally, distilled water (water that is boiled down to remove all contaminants as is done in 3rd world countries). If I had to pick all the different organizations to agree with.. I think I’d agree with the Centre for Disease Control.. it’s their job to prevent pandemics where as the other organizations are just as bad as politicians… taking money from companies and lobbyists in order to ‘say what people want to hear.’
I’m pretty sure the American Cancer Society is up on what does & doesn’t cause cancer.
well the point is, no one really knows what does and doesn’t cause cancer… aspartame is carcinogenic, yet its just about everything, sacchrine also causes cancer, and it’s in most drinks also, and where is the American Cancer Society? chasing tobacco.
The ACS actually fails to acknowledge many nutritional links to cancer. Also, these studies exhibit the effects of trace amounts. And because over a long period of time we are exposed to so many chemicals and toxicity, it makes it easy to say that fluoride was not the cause. Rather than rely on self-serving studies, I’d rather not take my chances putting a known dangerous and potent chemical in my body to prove a point.
Even if I assume that you’re correct that the ACS has missed something, I’m still left with the overwhelming consensus of medical opinion from all the other organizations. I’m unaware of any reputable health organizations that are currently… vocally opposing water fluoridation at the currently accepted safe levels. So if not these organizations, I’m left wondering what sources you’re pulling from. It can’t be that bad because it’s been common practice in the U.S. for the last 65 years and the average life expectancy has only dramatically increased since then. Where’s the peer-reviewed data showing harm and why isn’t the broader medical community, especially experts in the relevant fields, actively discouraging it? The first rule of toxicology is that the dosage makes the poison and 0.5 to 1.0 mg/L (milligrams per litre) is an incredibly low dosage.
The medical community is misinformed about many things. And they perpetuate them still. The fluoridation was fought to be made acceptable. And now they are increasing what are acceptable doses of poisonous chemicals. Fluoride was originally used as part of artillery shells. It is what the military used before uranium. To say that there are “acceptable levels” is ridiculous. Acceptable levels of radiation, for example, does that mean that one should regularly expose themselves to those “acceptable levels.”
Fluoride in water is banned in Norway, UK, Netherlands and most Western European countries. Their scientists of their national health organisations don’t pose for photo ops, nor do they send out press releases globally. They do their job…… and its as simple as ‘If it’s not essential, then why does it need to be added?’ Fluoride consumption causes premature births, tooth discolouration, thyroid dysfunction and the lowering of IQ levels. If something so ‘healthy and essential’ does this, then why is it still needed? It’s like the USDA turning around tomorrow and telling everyone we must incorporate sand into our diets as it’s rich in minerals and then we all do it because we just trust what they say? The fact of the matter is that numerous pharmaceutical companies lobby to these national health organizations and funnily enough, medicine and medical care for premature births/incubation, tooth whitening, thyroid medicine and ADHD medication are the most expensive out there? coincidence?
But again, if the medical community is not your source, then what more reliable source is this coming from? Sure, medical science makes mistakes but it seems to me that the very people who are most knowledgeable of the subject matter and be…st equipped to address these issues disagree and if the evidence is there, our best means of detecting it is the scientific method, which would demand repeatable controlled tests demonstrating the claim that survive the peer-review process. If this has been done, where can that research be found and why is it being ignored by those with the most applied knowledge on the subject?
Now I’m unfamiliar with this military use you describe, so I can’t comment on it. As I understand it, water fluoridation goes back to the early 20th century dentist, Dr. Frederick McKay, who practiced dentistry in Colorado & spent 30 years investigating why people with brown teeth also had extremely low levels of dental decay. In 1931, it was determined that naturally occurring fluoride in the local drinking water was responsible for both the discoloration & the lack of decay. Texas & Colorado had extremely high levels of natural fluoride, causing the discoloration, a condition now known as dental fluorosis. Years of research and testing in different cities & states, conducted by the National Health Service, determined one part per million was the ideal proportion, giving the same protection from decay, and avoiding the dental fluorosis. Since then, it’s been the standard practice to regulate fluoride levels in municipal water supplies to one part per million. There has been broad scientific and medical consensus for decades that one part per million of fluoride is best for health, and as far as I can tell, no rigorously conducted scientific trials showing signs of danger.
But again, the first rule of toxicology is that dosage makes the poison, and so I’m not just speculating that there are acceptable levels; I’m saying it’s an undesputed scientific fact.
References & Further Reading
Estupiñán-Day, Saskia. Promoting oral health: the use of salt fluoridation to prevent dental caries. Washington DC: Pan American Health Organization, 2005.
Griffin, SO, Jones, K, Tomar, SL. “An Economic Evaluation of Community Water Fluoridation.” Journal of Public Heath Dentistry. 1 Mar. 2001, Volume 61, Number 2: 78-86.
Hem, John D. Study and Interpretation of the Chemical Characteristics of Natural Water. Washington DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2005. 120-123.
Langford, Cameron. “GOP Hosts County’s Public Health Officer for Fluoride Talk.” Humboldt Advocate. 14 Jul. 2006, Newspaper: Unknown.
McKay, Frederick S. “Mass Control of Dental Caries Through the Use of Domestic Water Supplies Containing Fluorine.” American Journal of Public Heath Nations Health. 1 Jun. 1948, Volume 38, Number 6: 828-832.
National Cancer Institute. “Fluoridated Water: Questions and Answers.” National Cancer Institute – Comprehensive Cancer Information. National Institutes for Health, 29 Jun. 2005. Web. 12 Nov. 2009. <http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/fluoridated-water>
Nixon, Janice M., Carpenter, R. G. “Mortality in areas containing natural fluoride in their water supplies, taking account of socioenvironmental factors and water hardness.” The Lancet. 2 Nov. 1974, Volume 304, Issue 78: 1068-1071.
Also, water fluoridation is not banned in any other those nations; public officials have simply opted not to pass bills that would put it into practice. And politicians are not scientists. I’m frightened to imagine what Sarah Palin’s scienc…e policies would be. It’s the scientific consensus and the empirical evidence that matters in the realm of science, not populism nor the actions of public officials. And while most, if not all, of those countries have superior healthcare insurance plans, the U.S. is #1 in medical research. And no other nation in the world hosts more international researchers than the U.S.
You say fluoride consumption causes premature births, tooth discolouration, thyroid dysfunction and the lowering of IQ levels. How do you know this? What is your source for this and was dosage, specifically water fluoridation levels, taken into account? Where are these studies published? And are you aware that IQ levels have been consistently rising 3 points every decade for the whole of the 20th century? This is the Flynn effect.
My source is medical studies in all the countries that have banned water fluoridation. Also… living in UK for 7 years and Italy for 6 months, I actually didn’t see more cavities in my own mouth – and I eat loads of sugar. Although I’m proud of being American, I refuse to believe that the US government (or any government for that matter) is 100% right. I worked in politics long enough to know what goes on behind the scenes and let me tell you, it’s not pretty.
She is right about the adverse effects of fluoride. Bone fluorosis is a major concern as it is linked to osteoporosis. Also, it is a fundamental problem in civilization that rthere is such a thing as acceptable levels of chemicals to allo…w in the body. Fluoride is the main ingredient in rat poison. I’d rather not put that in my body.
Furthermore, the fluoride in our water system is not pharmaceutical fluoride. It is toxic waste byproducts. It is not FDA approved. There are as many scientists and doctors that are against fluoridation of water.
And, it is unethical to decide that every person should consume fluoride. Especially when cavities are easily preventable. If the government decided to put any “medication” in the water because they said it was okay, I’d be furious.
me too! If I know there is something in my food that shouldnt be there (such as the growth hormones in factory chickens and cows) then yah, that’s not going in my body that’s for sure.
There is no proof that ingesting fluoride does anything for your teeth. Even studies that the ADA have done backed this up. Topical fluoride does show beneficial results. This is easily seen where they banned or opted out of fluoridation of water. The people without fluoridation do not show any more cavities than people with fluoride in their water.
We can debate the topic forever, so I think this will me my last comment on it before simply saying we’ll have to agree to disagree.
To reiterate, I’ve cited several well-researched articles on the subject and several of the most reputable …health organizations in the world whom endorse water fluoridation as both reasonably safe and reasonably effective. And I forgot to even include on the list the FDA whom, let’s face it, this is directly in their wheelhouse. Pubmed has 2,831 entries on the subject and at least the first dozen I’ve gleaned from the site demonstrate the process as both safe and effective.
From the abstract of “Community effectiveness of public water fluoridation in reducing children’s dental disease.” Armfield JM.
Public Health Rep. 2010 Sep-Oct;125(5):655-64.PMID: 20873281
“CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrates the continued community effectiveness of water fluoridation and provides support for the extension of this important oral health intervention to populations currently without access to fluoridated water.”
Or from the abstract of “Geographic variation in medicaid claims for dental procedures in New York State: role of fluoridation under contemporary conditions.” Kumar JV, Adekugbe O, Melnik TA. Public Health Rep. 2010 Sep-Oct;125(5):647-54. Erratum in: Public Health Rep. 2010 Nov-Dec;125(6):788. PMID: 20873280
“CONCLUSIONS: These findings, when added to the already existing weight of evidence, have implications for promoting policies at the federal and state levels to strengthen the fluoridation program.”
This does not seem to be a controversial area where the scientific consensus is concerned. Rather, for all practical purposes, it is an over-and-done-with issue.
Suffice it to say, I’m not particularly persuaded by references to anonymous studies that seem to have failed to persuade the consensus of experts in the relevant fields, at least as far as the larger claims you seem to be making.
Further, as I said before, fluoridation was not “banned” in the countries you mention; politicians simply voted for whatever reason (which is unknown) not to spend their budgets on such a project. That’s not at all the same thing as banning something. But again, public policy doesn’t always, or rarely, follow scientific recommendations and I think the notion that politicians in other countries have any greater scientific education than those in our own (some of whom deny Evolution, deny AGW, and even believe that the Earth is 6000 years old) is naive.
And again, this isn’t mere opinion of “the government” whoever that is but the consensus of opinion, based on mountains of empirical evidence, of just about every reputable health organization on Earth.
Moving on,there are lots of ingredients in rat poison. Most, on their own, are entirely benign. And of course again dosage is a key factor. Otherwise, one can just as easily say that we need to remove oxygen from our water because oxygen is found in carbon dioxide, which is toxic to the environment. And chemicals get a bad rap these days but without them, we wouldn’t be here. Hell, without chemicals, there’d be no here here. Chemicals surround us, penetrate us, and bind the galaxy together. If you want to stop taking chemicals into your body, you’re going to have to stop eating and breathing. And regarding the ethics of mass water fluoridation, as I referenced before, this argument failed to win any more traction in the court of law and the court of science. And I surmise it’s even less persuasive now that rival commercial bottled waters are ubiquitous in our culture.
That’s it. I case my rest and beyond that, we’ll just have to agree to disagree.
I agree to disagree, I’ll shell out extra money for spring water and San Pellegrino sparkling and know that I’m not poisoning myself 🙂 great factual and intellectual arguments back and forth though, I love it! 🙂
Fluoride has already been proven to be more toxic than lead. I don’t want trace amounts of lead in my water either. Doctors and scientists agree that there are no safe amounts of lead for the body, regardless of what the body can be “put …through.” Also, many of the organizations you listed have dropped their affiliation with the ADA on this issue, as they do not approve of fluoride. I’m with Den, I’m not going to put chemicals in my body, no matter how safe someone tells me they are, while “experts” debate back and forth on it. I cherish my physical being too much.
experts schmexperts! we know they are experts because they had the money and misplaced motivation to stay in medical school forever, kissing Academic butt along the way and now they do things like murder Michael Jackson and Heath Ledger and Brittney Murphy. Then they wanna poison us, don’t even get me started on Doctors.
Well, that’s how it went down. I thought I made the best case I reasonably could given my lack of expertise in the subject matter.