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Is Fluoride Harmful?
How effective is fluoride in preventing cavities? Is it safe to drink fluoridated water? Or can this cause cancer, birth defects and tooth decay?
Dr. John Colquhoun, former chair of the New Zealand Fluoride Promotion Committee who now opposes fluoridation, said that dental decay had already been declining long before fluoridation came into the picture. He claims that in certain non-fluoridated areas, children were found to have fewer cavities than those in fluoridated communities.
"Colquhoun contends that better nutrition and the use of fluoride toothpaste have contributed most to the decline in tooth decay. The explanation for his pro-fluoride-toothpaste but antifluoridated-water stance is based on science that didn't exist in the Forties: there's now evidence that fluoride applied to the teeth by toothpaste may be just as effective as fluoride deposited in the teeth after being absorbed by the bloodstream," wrote Kalia Doner and Valerie Morano in Longevity magazine.
"Studies of children in Denmark, Canada and Australia offer the same evidence and over the past four decades in Europe, where almost no communities fluoridate their water, decay rates have fallen 30 to 50 percent — just as they have in the United States and other countries with fluoridated water," they added.
In addition to this, fluoride has also been blamed for a host of ailments. These include cancer, heart disease, skeletal disorders, birth defects and even tooth decay.
The renewed scare was also triggered by a government study in 1990 which showed that five out of 720 rodents fed moderately-to-highly fluoridated water developed a rare form of bone cancer. Are these fears warranted? Or is the bad publicity against fluoride unfounded?
There is no denying the fact that fluoride can be toxic if taken in high doses. Large amounts which may occur naturally in deep wells or by adding more than two parts per million (ppm) to water supplies can destroy the teeth and lead to fluoride deposits in the joints.
Fluoride poisoning can occur with the excess consumption of toothpaste, mouthwash or supplements containing this mineral. Consuming 20 to 80 milligrams of fluoride daily for an extended period of time may cause convulsions and cardiac failure.
"If you consume between 2.5 to 5 grams of fluoride in one shot you will get very sick and, in fact, probably die. At high doses of fluoride, skeletal fluorosis can occur. Skeletal fluorosis is the abnormal hardening of the bones and is associated with arthritic pain, weakness, joint stiffness and occasionally nerve damage and paralysis. Intakes of 20 to 80 milligrams daily of fluoride for 10 to 20 years are considered necessary for significant fluorosis to occur," according to Dr. Sheldon Saul Hendler in The Doctor's Vitamin and Mineral Encyclopedia.
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