Fluoridation ruled safe again

Published February 1, 2001

The British medical journal Lancet recently published a review of 214 studies performed over the past 50 years, since fluoridation of drinking water was introduced after World War II. Hannu Hausen, an epidemiologist and dental professor at the University of Oulu in Oulu, Finland who was connected with the research, noted, “There are some very vociferous groups on both sides that have polarized the debate, but we’ve looked at 50 years of the best research and we’ve not been able to find any association with any harm.”

The researchers categorically rejected any apparent harm from low levels of fluoride. Nevertheless, anti-fluoride activists, such as Paul Connell, professor of chemistry at St. Lawrence University in New York, told the Associated Press, “this is not the last word on fluoride.” John Yiamouyiannis, who once ran for President on an anti-fluoride platform, said just before his death from cancer on October 12, 2000 that “the studies were not convincing.”

The research review was commissioned by the British government, which is considering a large fluoridation program. The 214 studies that were analyzed found no evidence of harm–a conclusion British officials hope will allay fears of cancer, osteoporosis, or Down’s syndrome.

According to the research review, fluoridation reduces tooth decay by 15 percent. It can result in dental fluorosis or mottled teeth at high concentrations, “a cosmetic condition that can be rectified,” said lead researcher Paul Wilson.

“The finding that long-term exposure to fluoridated water does not increase the risk of osteoporosis fractures among elderly people should alleviate remaining concern about the safety of fluoridation,” said the University of Oulu’s Hausen.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), skeletal fluorosis–a crippling disease whose effects of which include porous, easily-fractured bones–is observed when drinking water contains 36 parts per million (ppm) of fluoride. WHO recommends just 1.5 ppm, while most U.S. communities use only about 1ppm.