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Posted by on Jul 27, 2014 in Life, Medicine, Science, Skepticism | 11 comments

Flouride

File this one under “conspiracy theories”. I had a discussion today with a person on facebook about fluoride. This person made that fluoride in the drinking water causes brittle bones. It’s true that fluoride can replace calcium in bones and weaken them. But that grain of truth doesn’t mean that the rest of the claim is valid. We see this a lot. A kernel of truth blown all out of proportion into a huge lie. The average person has between 500-1000 mg of fluoride in their bones per kilogram of bone mass. That’s NORMAL. A preclinical case of skeletal fluorisis is between 3500 and 5500 mgF/kg of bone. In this case, there no actual symptoms and the effect is barely detectable in radioscans. Clinical Phase 1, resulting in stiffness, joint pain, etc. is between 6000-7000 mgF/kg. In other words between 6 and 14 times what is normal.

The EPA regulates fluoride in water to a max of 4 mg/liter. Though many local areas have a stricter limit of 2 mg/L. Now, bone is about 15-20% of your mass (roughly). So a 200 pound male, has a skeletal mass of about 30 pounds or roughly 15 kilos (yeah, that’s loose, but it’s close enough for this discussion). And the intake of fluoride in the human body is roughly 50%

So, to get 15 kilos of bone from 1000mgF/kg to 6000mgF/kg would require 5000 mgF/kg * 15 kg / 2mg/L / 50% = 75,000 liters of water. 

The EPA suggests that a modern human in the US drinks about 2 liters of water per day. Assuming that you live in a city and drink fluoride infused water up to two liters per day, then you will get the max dose in about 102 years. Drink significantly more water than that, and you’re more in danger of dying from water overdose than from Fluoride. This all assumes that every mg of fluoride absorbed stays in the human body indefinitely, which is not the case. That last link shows that the fluoride concentration in urine increases linearly with the fluoride concentration in the blood. Finally, let me quote from this paper

Fluoride is the only extensively clinically proven means of reducing dental caries. Despite a large body of epidemiological data on the effectiveness of fluoride, delivered in the form of dentifrices, mouthrinses, drinking water, etc., the precise mode of action of fluoride is not completely understood. 

No, we don’t know how it works (or maybe we do, that paper is from 1991), but it does work… and it doesn’t cause bone disease. So drink tap water. It helps.

  • Eddie Janssen

    Did all this convince him/her?

    • SmilodonsRetreat

      The person hasn’t responded. I honestly don’t expect them to… given my experience with presenting research and evidence to a conspiracy follower.

  • KeithB

    You can also mention that the folks in Colorado have been drinking unregulated flouridated water for over a hundred years….

  • t

    I’m skeptical about drinking the fluoride. I’m not a believer.

    • SmilodonsRetreat

      You reject the mountains of clinical evidence that fluoride is the only method known that reduces dental caries?

      Why do you reject that evidence?

      • SmilodonsRetreat

        Here’s some research I found.
        http://europepmc.org/abstract/MED/6264506

        This study was conducted to determine if the anticaries effectiveness of a 0.243% sodium fluoride-silica abrasive dentifrice is superior to a 0.4% stannous fluoride-calcium pyrophosphate dentifrice. A nonfluoride, calcium pyrophosphate abrasive placebo dentifrice was also included at one-third the sample size of the active treatment groups to estimate the level of efficacy of the sodium fluoridedentifrice. A total of 3,093 schoolchildren were randomly assigned at a ratio of 3:3:1 to the sodium fluoride dentifrice, the stannous fluoride dentifrice, or the placebo dentifrice, respectively. Cariesexaminations were made by the same examiner initially and after one, two, and three years of ad libitum product usage. After three years, the results showed that the group using the sodium fluoridedentifrice had significantly fewer DMF teeth and DMF surfaces increments than the group using the stannous fluoride dentifrice. The percent reductions for DMF teeth and DMF surfaces were 24.2% and 22.6%, respectively. Both groups using fluoride dentifrices also had significantly fewer DMF teeth and DMF surfaces increments than the group using the placebo dentifrice.

        DMF- Decay, missing,filled index: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decay-missing-filled_index

        http://www.fairbanksalaska.us/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/19970600Heller-Dental-Caries-and-Dental-Fluorosis-JPHD.pdf

        Objectives: The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationships between caries experiences and dental fluorosis at different fluoride contentrations in drinking water. The impact of other fluoride products also was assessed.
        Methods: This study used data from the 1986-87 National Survey of US Schoolchildren. Fluoride levels of school water were used as an indicator of the children’s water fluoride exposure. The use of fluoride drops, tablets, professional fluoride treatments and school fluoride rinses were ascertained from caregiver questionnaires. Only children with a single continuous residence (n=18,755) were included in this analysis. Results: The sharpest decline in dfs and DMFS were associated with increases in water fluoride levels between 0 and 0.7ppm F, with little additional decline between 0.7 and 1.2 oom F. Fluorosis prevalence was 13.5 percent, 21.7 percent, 29.9 percent, and 41.4 percent for children who consumed <0.3, 0.3 to 1.2 ppm F water. In addition to fluoridated water, the use of fluoride supplements was associated with both lower caries and increases fluorosis. Conclusions: A suitable trade-ff between caries and fluorosis appears to occur around 0.7 ppm F. Data from this study suggest that a reconsideration of the policies concerning the most appropriate concentrations for water fluoridation might be appropriate for the United States.

        This article was published in 1997 and the EPA retains the 4.0 mg/L (4 ppm) level for fluoride.

        While this report does indicate that fluorosis occurs, by reading the article we learn that only 5% of the children had symptoms above “very mild” fluorosis. Only 25% of children had two or more teeth with Dean’s fluorosis score of 1 (very mild) or greater.

  • Doc Bill

    Raised in the 50’s – 60’s I had millions of cavities. Going to the dentist meant finding a new cavity or two. All of my molars are riddled with fillings.

    Yes, I had good oral hygiene. Mom made me brush after every meal. We didn’t always use Crest and our water was not fluorinated.

    Fast forward 40 years and none of my kids had a cavity. Nor did most of their friends. When my daughter was in college I got interested and asked her friends the weird question, “Do you have any cavities?” In 5-6 years of asking that question to random college students I never met one, not a single one with a cavity.

    Diets have not changed all that much from when I was a kid. Granted, we tried to keep sweets to a minimum in our house but my kids found their own sources of soda pop, candy, sweets and other foods.

    The difference is Fl in water. And, it’s simple chemistry. There’s nothing magical about it. The chemical effect is well known, documented and supported by many clinical trials.

    People who do not “believe” in fluoride as a proven decay preventative are simply idiots. May their teeth rot out of their heads.

  • Geoff_Roberts

    It’s also a tragedy that eliminating fluoride in drinking water hurts the poorest communities the most. Millions of children from poor communities suffer needlessly from dental decay and premature tooth loss that could have been reduced by drinking fluoridated water.

  • RichieIncog88

    I started reading through this earlier and it was so pseudo-scientific and jokey I thought that it was from The Onion. I loved the line, “No, we don’t know how it works (or maybe we do, that paper is from 1991), but it does work… and it doesn’t cause bone disease. So drink tap water. It helps.” You fluorideheads crack me up. I guess Alex Jones was right. It does lower your IQ.

    “The difference is Fl in water. And, it’s simple chemistry. There’s nothing magical about
    it. The chemical effect is well known, documented and supported by many clinical trials.

    People who do not “believe” in fluoride as a proven decay preventative are simply idiots. May their teeth rot out of their heads.”

    I am not from America, but it cracks me up that none of the arguments you’ve presented here are even semi-compelling to scientists in my home country. You act like we’d suddenly benefit tremendously by putting fluoride in the water here, and as if you have no burden of proof behind that claim. It’s really amazing when junk science gets misused by overweight militant liberals like yourself who were directly responsible for voting in Obama and supporting junk science Keynesian economic theories that devalue the dollar and have created the lowest work participation rate in recorded history. You guys will really believe anything and delude yourself into thinking you’re “scientific.” As one commenter already pointed out, you drew your conclusions long ago, now you’re cherrypicking for anything that supports your views and avoiding anything that doesn’t. Gotta love it. The IQ of America is reflected in your posts.

    • SmilodonsRetreat

      And yet all the research supports my claim.

      You also commit a logical fallacy. Just because some government doesn’t allow fluoride doesn’t mean that the research is wrong. Politics are a very different animal to science.

  • Bill Bour

    I’m sorry, but spelling is one of my pet peeves – please, it’s F-L-U-O-R-I-D-E, not F-L-O-U-R-I-D-E.