13 May 5 Fluoride Mythbusters
Fluoride, like vaccines, is a hotly debated topic here in the United States and around the world. Opponents of this vital nutrient claim fluoride is unsafe and that using it leads to a variety of problems from lower IQ scores in children to cancer. But what’s fact and what’s fiction? Read on to find out.
Myth #1: Fluoride leads to lower IQ levels in children.
Truth:This claim is based on studies from China in which the children involved in the study were given fluoride levels that were two to three times higher than the level used to fluoridate water in the U.S. In addition, British scientists were able to find what they referred to as “basic errors” in the research and found other factors that could have lowered IQ levels in the test subjects including arsenic exposure and eating contaminated grain.
Myth #2: Fluoride causes cancer and other diseases.
Truth: The fluoride levels set for the U.S. have been tested multiple times and each time deemed safe and effective for preventing tooth decay. A 2011 Harvard study debunked the theory that fluoride leads to the development of bone cancer. The research, which was approved and supported by the National Cancer Institute, studied hundreds of bone samples but were unable to find any link between fluoride and cancer.
Myth #3: Fluoride used to fluoridate U.S. water systems is extracted from fertilizer.
Truth: Fluoride is often extracted from phosphate rock, much like phosphoric acid which is found in Coke and Pepsi. The myth that fluoride is made from fertilizer comes from the fact that leftover phosphate rock is used to make fertilizer after fluoride and other nutrients are extracted.
Myth #4: Fluoride causes fluorosis, a condition that allegedly leads to the browning and pitting of teeth.
Truth: High amounts of fluoride can lead to the development of fluorosis, but most cases are mild and result in white specks on the teeth. This is often the result of using too much fluoride toothpaste during childhood. However, studies of fluorosis have revealed no change in the condition or functionality of teeth affected by the condition. Images that you see promoted by opponents are photos of extreme cases of fluorosis and occur in parts of the world in which fluoride levels are much, much higher than the levels in the U.S.
Myth #5: The National Research Council questioned the safety of fluoride levels in fluoridated water systems.
Truth: The NRC questioned and evaluated the safety of fluoride levels in parts of the U.S. where fluoride levels were naturally two to three times higher than levels used in our water systems. The NRC issued a statement clarifying this study and confirmed that the level used to fluoridate our water systems is, in fact, safe and effective.