The politics of Fluoride, by Mark Mayer

References to this article will be forthcoming.

Back in the 70’s when I was just a kid, I recall my mother giving me these little pills everyday. She told me they contained fluoride, which was good for my teeth. My doctor’s name was on the prescription label, so I assumed it had to be good. And I assumed that my mother would not give me anything bad. If both my doctor and my mother endorsed it, then it had to be good. But little did I know that my doctor was merely parroting the words of the ADA (American dental association). And my mother assumed that anything my doctor told her was true. But neither my mother nor my doctor has any idea of the story of how fluoride got approved.

For over 60 years the fluoride story has been a subject of huge controversy. Proponents of fluoridation have called it one of the greatest achievements of the 20th century. While the anti-fluoridationists have called it the biggest fraud of the 20th century.

Over the years, I have read hundreds of reports from both the pro and anti-fluoridationists. I have found that the pro-fluoridationists have put up a good argument, but their story is full of holes.

To understand this philosophy, lets take a look at the history of how fluoridation got started:

It all started back in the 1940’s with an aluminum company called ALCOA (aluminum company of America). This company was facing a problem with toxic waste. You see, one of the byproducts of aluminum manufacture is sodium fluoride. Because of its toxicity, it must be disposed of in the highest rated waste disposal facility. This would be at a tremendous cost.

In 1944, a long-time ALCOA lawyer named Oscar Ewing was named the company's chief counsel with fees in the then astronomical range of $750,000 a year. In 1947, Ewing was made Federal Security Agency Administrator, with the announcement that he was taking a big cut in salary. The US Public Health Service, then a division of the FSA, came under the command of Ewing, and he began to vigorously promote fluoridation nationwide. Ewing’s public relations strategist for the fluoride campaign was the nephew of Sigmund Freud, Edward L. Bernays. This was the man who literally wrote the book on propaganda. And I don’t mean that figuratively. In 1928 Bernays published a book entitled: “Propaganda,” in which he describes how the human mind can be manipulated. This book was recently republished in 2004. It is interesting to note that Bernays was also involved in the promotion of cigarettes.

To this day it is not exactly clear how ALCOA garnered the support of the American medical and dental association; however, there may have been other factors involved. These factors may have involved the fact that mass quantities of fluoride were produced in the production of the atomic bomb. In fact, the first litigation over the atomic bomb, had nothing to do with radiation, it was fluoride poisoning that caused ill health, and the subsequent litigation. It was these factors that may have led to the need to put a friendlier face on fluoride.

It is also noteworthy, that fluoridation began at the time of World War II. This was a time when aluminum production was being increased to provide for the production of airplanes and other military needs. It is theorized that this increased need for aluminum production may have paved the way for fluoride’s acceptance.

It is also interesting to note that prior to 1940 fluoride was considered to be a toxic element. In fact, 1939 U.S. Public Health Service regulations state "the presence of fluorides in excess of 1 ppm shall constitute rejection of the water

supply." (Yet, when water fluoridation is instituted, levels are set at a minimum of 1 ppm). In fact, an article appearing in the Journal of the American Medical Association on September 18, 1943, states, "fluorides are general protoplasmic poisons, changing the permeability of the cell membrane by inhibiting certain enzymes.

In fact, before 1940, fluoride’s only approved use was as a rat and cockroach poison. In smaller doses, it was approved for use as a treatment for an overactive thyroid gland. But this use was abandoned after many patients suffered destruction of their thyroid gland. It is interesting to note that both fluoride and iodine are both members of a group of elements called halogens. If you recall your days back in high school chemistry class, you may remember what is called the “rule of halogen displacement.” This means that any element of the halogen family with a lighter atomic weight will always displace another within the Halogen group whose atomic weight is greater. Fluorine has a lower atomic weight than that of iodine. It is interesting to note that hypothyroidism (low thyroid is currently at epidemic levels in the United States. Currently, a drug called synthroid (synthetic thyroid hormone) is one of the top selling drugs in the United States. Of course, other factors may be involved. For instance, chlorine added to drinking water is also a halogen. The difference is that chlorine is a necessary evil.

Prior to 1940, health officials were trying to remove excess fluoride from water supplies. This is because high levels of fluorides were destroying the teeth. In the early 1940’s, several studies had suggested that areas with a higher fluoride level had fewer cavities than areas with lower fluoride levels. But this is said to be because the people living in these high fluoride areas had fewer teeth than those living in areas with low fluoride levels. To say that fluoride can prevent tooth decay would be like saying that lethal doses of radiation can cure cancer. The fact is that there are many unfluoridated cities that have excellent dental health, and many that may have a high rate of dental decay. While there are many fluoridated cities with a high level of dental decay, while some fluoridated cities may have excellent dental health. There are many factors that may account for these discrepancies. For example, many nutrients may affect dental health. Both calcium and magnesium may prevent cavities. It is well known that areas with higher levels of calcium and magnesium in the drinking water have a lower incidence of dental decay. Incidentally, naturally occurring fluoride is usually comprised of calcium fluoride. So it may not be the fluoride, but the calcium that is preventing tooth decay, as well as other minerals, such as the aforementioned magnesium and many other nutrients may be involved in the preventing of tooth decay. For example, vitamin C has been shown to prevent tooth decay. Although, it should be noted that unbuffered vitamin C can harm the teeth if it comes in direct contact with the enamel. The fact is that there are many factors to consider when stating that fluoride or any nutrient can improve dental health. Just think of all the areas that are not fluoridated which have excellent dental health. Currently, most of Europe is not fluoridated, and they are not suffering any dental health crisis. In fact, most of Europe seems to have better general health than the United States and other Fluoridated areas.

It is interesting to note that the form of fluoride used to fluoridate drinking water is not the same as what naturally occurs in the drinking water. Naturally occurring fluoride is in a form called calcium fluoride. Some researchers have suggested that it is calcium and not the fluoride that accounts for improved dental health. After all, tooth enamel is comprised mostly of calcium. However, the type of fluoride added to the drinking water is either sodium fluoride NaF’s or more recently, silicofluorides (SiF’s). The use of this kind of fluoride that I will refer to as SiF’s, has been the subject of much controversy. For one thing, SiF’s have not been thoroughly tested. And moreover, SiF’s may be contaminated with other heavy metals such as lead, arsenic, or cadmium. The original tests used to determine fluoride’s safety were done using pharmaceutical grade sodium fluoride in distilled water. No one ever considered that possibility that fluoride could interact with other elements in the water. For instance, there is very strong evidence that fluoride can interact with aluminum in the drinking water to form a compound called aluminum fluoride or AiF as we will call them. A substance called Alum (aluminum sulfate) is often added to the drinking water as a clarifying agent. Some studies have suggested that AIFs can cause aluminum to cross the blood brain barrier more readily than aluminum, which is ordinarily not easily absorbed in the body. Also, using fluoridated water in aluminum cookware may cause aluminum to leach into the drinking water. Studies have shown that boiling fluoridated tap water in an aluminum pan leached almost 200 parts per million (ppm) of aluminum into the water in 10 minutes. Leaching of up to 600 PPM occurred with prolonged boiling. Different releases of aluminum depend upon the composition of the pan and the type of food being cooked. Using non-fluoridated water showed almost no leaching from aluminum pans. In 1998, a fluoride study published in Brain Research reported damage to rat kidneys and brain at very low doses. Rats were given 1ppm fluoride in doubly distilled and de-ionized water for 52 weeks. In other words they were given the same levels as we get in fluoridated water, albeit without the other ions present in tap water. One group of rats was given aluminum-fluoride (AlF3) and another, sodium fluoride (NaF). In both cases amyloid deposits were found in the rat brains. Amyloid deposits are tangles in the brain and are associated with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. Scientists do not know why they form. The rats in the control did not have them. The authors of the study speculate that fluoride enables aluminum to cross the blood brain barrier. Other factor may also influence how aluminum and fluoride interact. For instance, fluoride has a very strong affinity for calcium. This is witnessed in nature as virtually all naturally occurring fluoride is in the form of calcium fluoride. Therefore, the presence of calcium in the water may affect how much aluminum is affected by the presence of fluoride.

Sources of fluoride:

Aside from fluoridated drinking water, there are many other sources of fluoride in the environment. For example: tea, including green tea can contain a significant amount of fluoride. This may come as a surprise to some people, as there has been a plethora of advertisements touting the health benefits of tea consumption. What these advertisements fail to mention is that tea leaves have the potential to absorb fluoride from the soil. Of course, this would depend upon the fluoride content of the soil in which the tea leaves are grown in. Many studies touting the health benefits of tea may have been done using tea leaves that were grown in soil with a low fluoride content. And many studies were done using the isolated compounds that give tea its beneficial properties.

Another obvious source of fluoride is toothpaste. While we all know that toothpaste contains fluoride, what many people may not realize is that fluoride has the potential to absorb through the membranes in the mouth. It is well known that many drugs and other substances can be absorbed sublingually. In fact, many vitamins and minerals are now sold as sublingual preparations. Fluoride is basically a mineral element, or rather an anti-nutrient. But the bottom line is that fluoridated toothpaste should be avoided. Virtually all toothpaste is now fluoridated. You will have to go to health food store to find an unfluoridated toothpaste. But be sure to read the labels very carefully, as many toothpastes sold in health food stores actually contain fluoride. So make sure the label says “fluoride free.” Another option is to use pure baking soda. This may not be as aesthetically pleasing as regular toothpaste, but it will do the job of getting the teeth clean. Just sprinkle a little baking soda into one hand, and then dip your wet toothbrush into the baking soda with your other hand. Be sure to keep your toothbrush wet when brushing, otherwise it may irritate your teeth.

What you should know about water filters:

For years health writers have been recommending the use of distillation or reverse osmosis “RO” units to remove fluoride from the drinking water. But recently I have read a very disturbing report indicating that these techniques may not be as effective as once thought. According to reports, the fluoride atoms have a molecular size and weight that is very similar to the H2O molecules. As a result, it may have a boiling point similar to that of water. Therefore, distillation may not be effective at removing fluoride. The same goes for reverse osmosis “RO” units. The fluoride atom is so small that it may not be removed by this method. So at this time the best way to remove fluoride is to avoid it. This means drinking spring water from areas that have little or no fluoride. Your best bet is to have the water tested to see for sure the level of fluoride it contains.

It should also be noted that most commercially prepared beverages are made with fluoridated water. It is therefore advisable to reduce one’s intake of these beverages. Or perhaps making your own fruit juice using unfluoridated water.

Proponents of fluoridation are switching sides!

More and more pro-fluoridationists are becoming anti-fluoridationists. For example: Dr. Hardy Limeback, B.Sc., Ph.D in Biochemistry, D.D.S., head of the Department of Preventive Dentistry for the University of Toronto, and president of the Canadian Association for Dental Research, has recently switched sides. Apparently, after reviewing the evidence, he has had a change of heart. Dr. Limeback now warns against the use of fluoride. Dr. Limeback was quoted as saying "In Canada we are now spending more money treating dental fluorosis than we do treating cavities. That includes my own practice." One of the most obvious living experiments today, Dr. Limeback believes, is a proof-positive comparison between any two Canadian cities. "Here in Toronto we've been fluoridating for 36 years. Yet Vancouver – which has never fluoridated – has a cavity rate lower than Toronto's."

Other experts are speaking out against fluoride. These include the EPA’s own scientists. Dr. William Marcus, an EPA senior science adviser and toxicologist stated in "Food and Water Journal," 1998, " Fluoride is a carcinogen by any stand we use. I believe EPA should act immediately to protect the public, not just on the cancer data, but on the evidence of bone fractures, arthritis, mutagenicity and other effects." Dr. marcus was fired as a result of this. He was later reinstated. Dr. Robert Carton, a scientist who spent 20 years working for the US Environmental Protection Agency said, "Fluoridation is the greatest case of scientific fraud of this century, if not all time." Dr. Charles Gordon Heyd, Past President of the American Medical Association said: "I am appalled at the prospect of using water as a vehicle for drugs. Fluoride is a corrosive poison that will produce serious effects on a long- term basis. Any attempt to use water this way is deplorable."

It is interesting to note that many people who speak out against fluoride are losing their jobs and being ostracized by their colleges. With this in mind, it is no wonder that more people aren’t speaking out. Currently, any doctor or dentist who opposes fluoridation would run the risk of losing their license to practice medicine or dentistry.

Bone health and fluoride

As previously mentioned, fluoride has a strong affinity for calcium. It is this affinity that may account for its ability to cause bone disease. It is well known that high levels of fluoride can cause crippling skeletal fluorosis. Areas of India where the naturally occurring levels of fluoride are very high, the people suffer from serious bone deformities. In fact, fluoride is considered to be the leading cause of bone cancer. Ironically, fluoride was once thought to be a treatment for osteoporosis. Women receiving fluoride had shown increased bone density, but they suffered the same amount of fractures as the controls. This indicates that fluoride builds weaker bones.

For further reading, check out the following websites:

The Fluoridation Fiasco: Poison In Your Water:

Fluoride Pollution: An Overview

Just Think It's International Anti-Fluoridation Database:

150+ facts, horror stories and cover-ups about Fluoride

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