Happy Healthy YOU

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Kelly Spencer - Happy Healthy YOU

(A wellness column by Kelly Spencer: writer, life coach, yoga & meditation teacher, holistic healer and a mindful life enthusiast!)

I grew up drinking fluorinated tap water and there was fluoride in my toothpaste. We had school-based fluoride rinse programs that had each class one-by-one, line up to swish a bright-colored flavor-filled liquid. Looking back, I am doubtful it was a natural color or flavor but how else would they get kids to take it?

Fluoride is naturally found in our teeth, bones and our drinking water. Studies from the early 1900’s showed that additional fluoride was beneficial for prevention of tooth decay, tooth enamel demineralization, and cavity reduction. The foundation of water fluoridation in the U.S. was the research of the dentist Frederick McKay. The National Institute of Dental Research conducted a controlled experiment by fluoridating the water in Grand Rapids, Michigan, starting January 25, 1945. The results, published in 1950, showed significant reduction of cavities. By 1960, water fluoridation was widely used across the United States. This practice was adopted by a few other countries including Canada. Western Europe and Japan have almost no fluoridated water supplies.

So why has fluoride been on the hot seat of debate for many years including the removal of it from our water systems?

Many, many studies have been done regarding fluoride and whether it is our friend or foe. It seems to be undisputed that it has been helpful for dental health, but are there side effects that we should be concerned with?

In varied studies from researchers from all over the world many conclude that small amounts of fluoride is good for our teeth. World Health Organization and Health Canada included, citing evidence that shows fluoridation is a safe and effective method of caries prevention. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) calls it “one of the 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century.”

So what on earth could be the down side of fluoride? And why have they taken it out of the water supply system, if it really is okay for us?

Oxford County states, “Fluoride is naturally present in the water in Oxford County. In some parts of the County – such as Brownsville, Ingersoll, Lakeside, Springford and some areas with private well water – natural fluoride in the drinking water is higher than in other areas. The County of Oxford does NOT add fluoride to its municipal water system.

In areas where fluoride was being added, the removal of this process is becoming more common. Where I grew up in Kitchener-Waterloo area, they removed addition fluoridation over a half a decade ago.

In 2010, Globe and Mail reporter Martin Mittelstaedt wrote, “When it comes to fluoridating drinking water, Ontario and Quebec couldn’t be further apart. Ontario has the country’s highest rate of adding the tooth-enamel-strengthening chemical into municipal supplies, while Quebec has one of the lowest, with practically no one drinking fluoridated water.” He concluded, “But surprisingly, the two provinces have very little difference in tooth-decay rates, a finding that is likely to intensify the ongoing controversy over the practice of adding fluoride to water as a public health measure.”

So just what are the reported claimed side effects of too much fluoride?

Primarily, dental fluorosis (also termed mottled enamel) leaving white opaque streaks on the tooth enamel. According to some researchers, far more serious and sinister impacts are directly attributed to the ingestion of fluoride. Based on the research of Dr. Phyllis Mullenix, fluoride is found to act in a way that lowers the I.Q. of children (“Neurotoxicity of Sodium Fluoride in Rats,” Mullenix, P. Neurotoxicology and Teratology, 1995). A study funded by the National Toxicology Program intended to determine the toxicology effects of Fluoride was carried out by Battelle. Dr. Williams Marcus found that the increases in bone cancer, particularly in male rats, is dose-related. The more Fluoride given the more the incidence and onset of bone cancer.

Also notable of this study are the levels of fluoride that caused the cancers in the rats are lower than the average amount humans statistically ingest on a daily basis. Dr. Marcus formerly held the position of chief toxicologist for the EPA’s Office of Drinking Water, until his position was terminated in 1991 after his insistence for an unbiased evaluation of fluoride’s cancer causing in drinking water supplies.

Interestingly, Dr. Marcus rigorously fought his dismissal in the court of law. He won his benchmark case after being able to prove to the courts that his dismissal was politically motivated. His position was then reinstated with the EPA, however there appears to be no record of the study Dr. Marcus so adamantly requested ever having been carried out by the EPA.

Canadian Cancer Society states many government agency research shows no link to fluoride and cancer, but does recognize that a small number of independent research studies conclude that there may be a link with bone cancer (notable with boys under age 19) and high concentrations of fluoride. The Cancer Society in Canada also confirms that there is study evidence of very high fluoride levels causing osteosarcoma (bone cancer) in rats but states the evidence of these studies are uncertain.

Philippe Grandjean, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health research scientist and lead author Anna Choi of the Department of Environmental Health and senior author adjunct professor of environmental health, evaluated 27 studies, 25 of which were conducted in China, of children exposed to fluoride. They concluded in summary: possible risk of brain development in children, intelligence tests of children exposed to fluoride revealed poorer performance on IQ tests with 26 of the studies, documented an IQ deficit associated with increased fluoride exposure.

There are many adamant studies on both sides of the fence that claim their opinion is be the truth. With some conspiracy theories of the poison of fluoride and others dismissing studies of its cancerous harm, could this be just another case of a good idea that ended up having overconsumption side effects?

So what do you do with this information? I still drink tap water and eat food that contains natural amounts of fluoride but I have attempted to eliminate added fluoride. My toothpaste is a Fluoride-free and SLS/ Sodium Lauryl Sulfate-free certified organic product. I brush twice daily and see my dentist every year or two.

Keep smiling.

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