Adverse Side Effects of Fluoride

Used for decades to prevent tooth decay, fluoride is  found in most toothpaste and is commonly added to drinking water. The Centers  for Disease Control and Prevention statistics for 2006 report that 61.5 percent  of the U.S. population receives fluoridated water. Fluoride ingestion, however,  has been linked to multiple adverse health effects, inciting groups such as the  Fluoride Action Network to call for the removal of fluoride from public water  systems.

About Fluoride

A substance derived from fluorine, fluoride prevents  dental cavities and strengthens tooth enamel. Patients who are at an increased  risk of tooth decay may take fluoride in supplement form. Since the 1940s,  fluoride has been added to drinking water in the United States to help prevent  tooth decay, particularly in the tooth-forming years. At the time, the dental  community believed that fluoride’s primary benefits were delivered through  ingestion. Recent research, however, indicates that fluoride ingestion has  minimal benefit and has been linked to many adverse health effects such as skin  rashes, mouth lesions, weight gain and decreased IQ in children.

Fluoride in Water

The Fluoride Action Network notes that fluoride is the  only chemical added to drinking water for medicinal purposes. All other  chemicals that are added to water are intended to treat the water by improving  its quality and safety. Fluoride has no such effect on water.  Ninety-seven  percent of western Europe has eliminated fluoride from drinking water on the  grounds that it mandates compulsory medication. Swallowing fluoride also has  minimal benefit. The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention note that  fluoride’s effect is delivered through topical application and not through  ingestion.

Fluoride Allergy

As reported by the “Journal of Dental Medicine,” 1  percent of people participating in a government-funded clinical trial on  fluoride experienced allergic reactions or hypersensitivity to fluoride.  Hypersensitive reactions can occur with both topical and ingested fluoride.  Symptoms of fluoride allergy include skin rashes, mouth lesions, headache,  weakness, joint pain, gastric distress, fatigue and vision  problems.

Health Risks

Fluoride ingestion has been associated with adverse  health effects such as IQ deficits in children, depression, weight gain and  heart disease. The “Journal of Applied Clinical Pediatrics” reports that “high  fluoride intake has a damaging effect on intellectual ability,” and human  studies from China, India, Iran and Mexico found that elevated levels of  fluoride in children resulted in reduced performance and impaired development of  intelligence. The U.S. National Research Council has also found that fluoride  affects normal endocrine function, which may contribute to hypothyroidism, or  reduced activity of the thyroid gland. Hypothyroidism can lead to fatigue,  depression, weight gain, hair loss, muscle pains and heart  disease.