About 70% of Americans drink fluoridated water. They’re all at a higher risk of hypothyroidism and worse.
When the government added fluoride to our drinking water it was hailed as one of the greatest public health achievements of the 20th century. It was sold to the public as the end to dental cavities.
Today municipalities in the United States add fluoride to the water supplies of 67% of Americans or nearly 211 million people.[i]
But new research shows drinking fluoridated water greatly increases your risk of developing an underactive thyroid or hypothyroidism.
Hypothyroidism or low thyroid function causes fatigue, weight gain, constipation, aches, dry skin, thinning hair, and intolerance to cold. It can also cause slowed heart rate, depression, and impaired memory.
The new study from England finds that fluoride added to drinking water is associated with a 30% higher rate of diagnosed hypothyroidism.[ii]
Actual rates of under-active thyroid may be much higher since this study was limited to people who were diagnosed. Many more may suffer with an impaired thyroid and not receive necessary treatment.
In the study researchers looked at the 2012 levels of fluoride in the drinking water supply in England. About 10% of the English population or six million people live in areas with naturally or artificially fluoridated water containing 1 milligram of fluoride per liter of drinking water.
They found that in areas with fluoride levels above 0.3 mg of fluoride per liter of water, rates of hypothyroidism were 30% higher.
That’s really bad news for Americans. In the U.S. the recommended level of fluoride in the water is 0.7 mg/L, or more than twice the level found to be a problem in England.
The researchers also compared two communities, one with fluoridated water and one without. They found that the fluoridated area was twice as likely to report higher rates of hypothyroidism.
Why is fluoride in your water?
The dirty little truth about fluoride is that it’s a toxic industrial waste. It’s a byproduct of uranium enrichment, aluminum smelting, and phosphate fertilizers.
Fluoride became the darling of dentists and public health authorities just before World War II thanks to bad science. H. Trendley Dean was a dentist then working for the U.S. Public Health Service. He conducted a study of tooth decay in 345 communities in Texas. And he found that communities with about 1 part-per-million (ppm) of fluoride in their water supply had fewer cavities.
Dr. Dean declared this the optimal level of fluoride for dental health and he advised adding fluoride to the public drinking water.
The government was very receptive to the idea. As it happened, their new atomic bomb industry was throwing off fluoride as a waste product. Thanks to Dr. Dean, rather than paying to dispose of a hazardous waste, these businesses could now sell fluoride to municipalities for their drinking water systems.
It wasn’t until years later that scientists reviewing Dean’s Texas study found out how flawed it was. Dr. Dean had selectively used findings from 21 cities to support his conclusions. He ignored data from 272 communities that did not support his results.
Since Dean’s first study, there have been no double-blind studies proving that fluoride in the water reduces cavities. The World Health Organization (WHO) found no difference in tooth decay between countries that fluoridate their water and those that do not.
In fact, the science shows that fluoride increases cavities.
The largest study of 400,000 students revealed that each 1 part-per million (ppm) of added fluoride in drinking water increased tooth decay by 27%.[iii] The National Institute of Dental Research conducted another review of 39,000 U.S. school aged children and found that each 1 ppm of fluoride in the water supply increased tooth decay by 5.4%.[iv]
Besides making cavities worse, fluoride permanently stains teeth. In 25% of children it causes dental fluorosis – brown or yellow teeth mottled with white spots. Dental fluorosis can be an indication that the rest of your body, such as the brain and internal organs, has been overexposed to fluoride as well.
In addition to hypothyroidism, studies prove other serious health dangers of fluoride:
- Heart Disease: Fluoride is linked to higher cardiovascular disease risk. A study of 61 patients found a strong link between fluoride and calcification of the arteries (atherosclerosis), as well as increased cardiovascular events.[v]
- Brain Damage and Low IQs: More than 100 published studies document fluoride’s damage to the brain. Researchers from Harvard University’s School of Public Health found that children in high-fluoride areas had significantly lower IQ scores than those who lived in low-fluoride areas. They warned of the adverse effect of high fluoride exposure on children’s neurodevelopment.[vi]
- Cancer: Studies from Dr. Dean Burk, former head of the Cytochemistry Section at the National Cancer Institute, estimate that fluoridation caused 10,000 excess cancer deaths. His conclusions were based on a study of rats that drank fluoridated water and showed an increase in tumors and cancers in oral squamous cells and thyroid cells, and rare forms of bone and liver cancer.[vii]
- Weakens Bones: As fluoride builds up in bones, it can lead to skeletal fluorosis. That’s a debilitating condition making bones extremely weak and brittle. Epidemiological studies show high fluoride exposure increases the risk of bone fractures, especially in the elderly and diabetics. Drinking fluoridated water over many years may increase the rate of bone fractures. It disrupts enzymes and prevents them from producing collagen, the structural protein you need to build strong flexible bones. One study found female skeletons with the highest fluoride content had the most severe osteoporosis.[viii]
- Increases ADHD: A recent six-year study published in the journal Environmental Health, found that U.S. states with a higher proportion of fluoridated water had a higher prevalence of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD. Each 1% increase in artificial fluoridation was associated with approximately 67,000 to 131,000 additional ADHD diagnoses.[ix]
- Fluoride has never been proven to be safe. In fact, the US Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry lists fluorides among the top 20 substances posing the most significant threat to human health. Yet it is still in the U.S. water supply. Other countries including 97% of European populations have stopped adding fluoride to their water.[x]
What can you do to reduce your exposure to toxic fluoride?
1. Stop Buying Fluoride Toothpaste.
Each tube of fluoride toothpaste contains enough fluoride to kill a small child.
Since 1997, the FDA has required all fluoride toothpastes to carry the following label: “WARNING: Keep out of reach of children under 6 years of age. If you accidentally swallow more than used for brushing, seek professional help or contact a poison control center immediately.”
2. Filter Your Water.
Check with your local water department to find out if your water is fluoridated. More and more communities are rejecting fluoridation.
Bathing and cooking with fluoridated water can also expose you to risks. Taking a 10 minute hot shower is like drinking a gallon of water even if you never swallow a drop.
If your water company adds fluoride to the supply, a high quality water filtration system is the best way to minimize your exposure. But most home filtration systems are ineffective. The best types are reverse osmosis, deionizers, and activated alumina. They can cover your entire house and remove about 90% of fluoride.
3. Check Your Bottled Water.
About 40% of bottled water comes right from the tap. That means it could contain fluoride. Some brands even advertise added fluoride.
You can verify the level of fluoride in your bottled water by calling the supplier’s number printed on the label. Fluoride in bottled water should ideally be zero or less than 0.1 part-per-million. It should definitely not be more than 0.2 ppm.
In some parts of the country, there are fresh water springs where you can bottle your own pure water. Check with www.findaspring.com to find a free natural spring in your area.
4. Buy Organic Produce
Produce grown with fluoride-based pesticides can have extremely high levels of fluoride. Conventional iceberg lettuce tests at an astounding 180 times the recommended levels.
Other foods that have high fluoride levels include citrus fruits, potatoes, grapes and raisins. Buy only organic versions of these foods to minimize your exposure.
For more information visit Green Med Info’s page on fluoride toxicity http://www.greenmedinfo.com/disease/fluoride-toxicity
[ii] S Peckham, D Lowery, S Spencer. “Are fluoride levels in drinking water associated with hypothyroidism prevalence in England? A large observational study of GP practice data and fluoride levels in drinking water.” Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, February 2015 DOI: 10.1136/jech-2014-204971
[iii] Teotia SPS, Teotia M “Dental Caries: A Disorder of High Fluoride And Low Dietary Calcium Interactions (30 years of Personal Research)” Fluoride, 1994 27:59-66 (1994)
[iv] Yiamouyannis, J “Water fluoridation and tooth decay: Results from the 1986-1987 national survey of U.S. school children” Fluoride 23:55-67 (1990).
[vi]Anna L. Choi, et al, “Developmental Fluoride Neurotoxicity: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” Environ Health Perspect 120:1362–1368 (2012)
[viii] Alhava EM, Olkkonen H, Kauranen P, Kari T. “The effect of drinking water fluoridation on the fluoride content, strength and mineral density of human bone.” Acta Orthop Scand. 1980:51: 413-420. [ Abstract ]
[ix] Ashley J Malin and Christine Till “Exposure to fluoridated water and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder prevalence among children and adolescents in the United States: an ecological association.” Environmental Health 2015, 14:17 doi:10.1186/s12940-015-0003-1
*Article originally appeared at Green Med Info.