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Delusion, Error and Fluorosis: The DEF of Fluoridation



In the previous two installments of the ABCDEF of Fluoridation I have described the dangers due to the accumulation of fluoride in our bodies, bone cancer in young men, bone fractures in our senior citizens, and a variety of diseases, especially digestive and skeletal that seem to be on the increase.  How can we pretend there is NO risk?  But that is exactly what almost all health professionals are forced to do.  They are presented the same one-sided information as everyone else: that fluoride is an essential mineral (which is not proved); that it reduces dental caries by 60 percent (which has never been verified) and that there is no danger to the public (which is clearly untrue). 

If health professionals publicly disagree with this view, they are subject to peer review, censure, loss of job and loss of license.  Remember, doctors and dentists practice at the pleasure of the state.  In some quarters it is considered “unprofessional” for a doctor or dentist to criticize a public health measure, such as fluoridation.  And unprofessional practice is often punished by loss of license. 

Few are eager to chance it and fewer still care to research the scientific information and draw their own conclusions.  Thus they live and practice in ignorance of the facts in this vital area, one that affects many other facets of medical practice.  Some delude themselves that medical science is above politics; they deny that they could be misinformed or that the Public Health Service and National Institute of Health could be wrong for fifty years.  Denial is a protective mechanism for these busy people and I quarrel only with their arrogance, not their fear.

However, it is a different matter when confronted with a professional pro-fluoridationist, as I was when I recently presented my views as an invited speaker at Loma Linda University Medical School, department of Public Health.  Naturally, the audience was mostly pro-fluoridation.  My opposite number on the panel, who happened also to be a major influence on the California legislature regarding AB 733, the fluoridation bill, began his talk with a ten point critique of the anti-fluoridationists, by calling us: “the unprincipled opposition.”  He did not go on from there to defend fluoridation.  His was a qualitative, not a quantitative essay.  There was nothing to argue about since he presented no data to validate his name-calling.  His approach can at best be termed “righteous.”



And why not feel righteous when you think you are on the right side.  Public opinion is best measured in tooth-paste sales: 95 percent of toothpaste sold in America today is fluoridated.  The acceptance of this type of product is almost complete.  The power of health product advertising is evidently overwhelming when it is in line with the message of the Public Health Service and the dental-medical establishment.  In addition, there is almost no competing advertising for non-fluoridated products. 

Would an advertiser be allowed to extol the benefits of non-fluoridated tooth-paste?  First, he would have to prove some danger to fluoride, a feat that no one has been able to get by the FDA to date.  Has anyone ever told you that fluoridated toothpaste contains 1000 to 1500 times MORE concentrated fluoride than fluoridated water!  That the amount of fluoride in a 10 oz. tube of fluoridated toothpaste is sufficient to KILL a child under about age six years old!  That the fluoride is so irritating that some people get sore tongue, gums and lips.  That calls to poison control centers from mothers whose children get sick (mostly digestive ills) after using fluoridated products number in the thousands each year.

Many people, adults and children alike, brush their teeth more than once a day, usually covering the bristles with a ribbon of toothpaste.  A pea-sized gob contains about 1 mg of fluoride; but most folks use four to five times more.  I have found many of my patients using dentifrice as a mouthwash and breath-freshener, not knowing that the fluoride binds and absorbs substantially through the mucous membranes.  I have found children who like the taste so well that they actually eat from the toothpaste tube.  Knowing what you now know, do you think that is safe?  In India, they put a warning on the tube: “Not for children under age six.”



Less than 1 percent of fluoridated water enters the human body.  The other 99 percent runs out of our pipes and into our sewers as hazardous waste, polluting the environment.  Freshwater fish can’t survive in water with fluoride over 0.2 ppm concentration and many saltwater species succumb at fluoride over 0.5 ppm.  Of course, they don’t drink the water; they live in it.  It is now recognized that the near-extinction of the salmon population in the once-mighty Columbia River of Washington is due to fluoride, not failure of the carefully designed by-passes whereby fish can ascend to their ancestral spawning places.  Sewage discharge into the Columbia is particularly high in fluoride because of industrial effluent containing fluoride.  But the plight of the fish ought to tell us to beware of the low margin of safety of fluoride.

Plant life is also sensitive to fluoride at low concentration.  Diminished production of both chlorophyll and carotene are well documented in crops exposed to fluoride at 0.6 ppm.  Think of that next time you water your lawn and it comes up less than green, or water your garden and it doesn’t grow nearly as well as after a natural rainfall. 



All of the foregoing reflects on the general ignorance about the far-reaching effects and toxic danger of fluoride.  Are health professionals so slow-witted as to be taken in?  I am afraid so.  But it is not all their fault, because they can’t possibly review all the data in such a technical subject unless it becomes a major focus in their career.  That’s what experts are for, but unfortunately the experts (I am not paid to do this) are operating at the same snail’s pace in dealing with the medical facts about fluoridation as they have been in using the flood of positive findings about nutrition and health.  It has taken almost 30 years to convince FDA to permit folic acid in multivitamin supplements and add it to the food enrichment, even though deficiency has been known to cause birth defects all this time. 

Fluoride toxicity is subtle because it takes longer for the bad effects to show up; still one would expect more doctors and dentists to at least look into the facts. Perhaps many practitioners have suspected fluoride toxicity at some time or other.  If so, how could they go about verifying such a diagnosis?  Most likely they would be confronted with a patient whose medical history points to fluoride exposure, i.e. thirst, backache, tendon pain, intestinal gas, acid stomach, chronic fatigue and excessive intake of fluoridated water or tea (which is high in fluoride in its own right).  The doctor might then write a laboratory order for fluoride measurement in blood or urine. But the laboratories are often in error and report a normal or low fluoride when it may be much higher.  How is a doctor supposed to know about that?!  I have personally talked to the directors of several medical laboratories and none of them knew that the standard ion-electrode test for fluoride often delivers a false reading, up to five times too low!  They admit that fluoride testing is so seldom ordered by doctors that even the largest reference laboratories lack familiarity with the fine points.

I must admit that I, myself, didn’t know about this until over 20 years after I was first awakened to the danger of fluoride.  While reviewing my files in preparation for my testimony before the California Legislature, opposing the fluoridation bill, I came across a technical paper by my own medical school professor of biochemistry, Dr. Wallace Armstrong.  Partly out of nostalgia, I read the entire paper.  What a shock!  There was the answer to decades of confusion about my frequent inability to verify the diagnosis of fluoride toxicity by laboratory means.  Repeatedly, the urine fluoride test would fail to match my patient’s history of recent excessive intake.

Dr. Armsrong was an ardent pro-fluoridationist and was instrumental in making Minneapolis one of the early cities to accept fluoridation 50 years ago.  It was almost two decades later before he and his associate, Leon Singer, published their research[i] which revealed the potential for error in the common laboratory test for fluoride, a test that relies on an ion-specific electrode.  They found that un-ashed samples yielded erroneous results, up to five times too low, because the ion electrode only measures water soluble fluoride and not protein bound and insoluble forms, which include calcium fluoride and other mineral fluorides.

This explained my failure to confirm fluoride toxicity in many of the patients whose urine samples I sent to the laboratory over the years.  Fluorides are so insoluble that unless the tissue sample is ashed, heated to 1000 - 2000 degrees, the fluoride crystals fail to ionize.  Singer and Armstrong published this discovery in 1969, almost two decades after they had begun to promote fluoridation of water, which gives you some idea of how long it takes to get things right in science.

In 1974 I studied hair fluoride levels in 300 of my patients.  Luckily, these were performed by the toxicology laboratory, of the late Professor Charles Hine, where the samples were properly ashed and measured by atomic absorption spectro-photometry.  Since fluoridation in San Francisco, at 1 part per million, was begun 20 years earlier, I expected to find an average of 1 part per million in the hair of my patients; and in fact that was so.  However, eleven patients were much higher than that, having fluoride from 5 to 20 parts per million.  All of these eleven patients had medical symptoms: low back pain, headache, depression, thyroid nodules, chronic fatigue--much like the cases I had read about. 

In 1983 I measured urine fluorides in a consecutive dozen patients.  Four patients had fluoride over 3 parts per million in their urine.  Because not all fluoride is excrted in the urine, some being lost via the stools, it is usual to estimate total daily intake by  multiplying 24 hour urine fluoride output by 1.5.  That factors out to 4.5 mg per day, which is what the National Academy of Science tells us is a common intake these days.  Judging by the laboratory error factor, however, I strongly suspect that for some the actual fluoride results were higher.



If fluoride was high in 1983, it is not less so in 1996.  The background from all sources is increasing to such an extent that everyone with chronic medical symptoms has to consider fluoride as a probable cause, even before nutrient imbalance.  There is no escape now from mass fluoridation.  Knowledge of the health risks is a help; but how does one limit intake in a society which presents this toxic substance in all of our water, processed juices, soft drinks, tea, coffee, soup, all restaurant meals and breakfast cereals.  To complicate matters, we now know that fluoride leaches extra lead out of the pipes, aluminum out of pots and pans, and increases our exposure to these toxic metals along with its own accumulating burden.  In addition, many cities use industrial waste fluoride, which is always contaminated with heavy metals, including uranium.  It is impossible to predict the lifetime impact of multiple metal fluoride exposure, but as a rule exposure to multiple toxic substances is more dangerous than single exposures.

If all this is too depressing, take hope from the fact that, at alkaline pH fluoride passes through the kidneys more readily and this favors detoxification.  If you are not inclined to a low fat, low protein, alkaline type-vegetarian type, the use of “buffered” vitamin C or some other form of bicarbonate of soda after meals is helpful (but no more than 2 teaspoonfuls per day of bicarbonate please).  Mineral supplements, especially calcium and boron, bind fluoride into the stools, thus limiting absorption.  The Chinese used borax to line their wells thousands of years ago in high fluoride areas.  They didn’t know about fluoride, of course, but they did know about arthritis, fatigue, acid stomach and indigestion. 

If all the above seems like too much trouble then there are only three things to do: 1) Lobby your assemblyperson to rescind AB 733.  2)  Eat organic foods whenever possible (pesticide residues are high in fluoride) and 3) distill your water (the currently available filters don’t remove fluoride).  And finally, carry a flask of pure water wherever you go.  I am doing just that myself because otherwise I get “lumbago,”: a stiff lower back, after just a few days on vacation at fluoridated “watering holes,” such as, Aspen, Palm Springs, Maui and on visits to my boyhood home, Minneapolis.



Fluoridation at the recommended 1 part per million dose causes damage to cells that produce the dentin and enamel during the development of our teeth.  Mild cases show up as unsightly dull or brown spots, mottling, of the enamel of the permanent teeth.  Moderate cases are identified by pitting of the enamel due to defects in the dentin, the inner core of the tooth.  In severe cases the teeth are stained and deformed and more susceptible to caries.  Mottling affects 10 to 80 percent of children living in fluoridated American cities.  The high incidence cities have a high rate of unnecessary fluoride prescribing by physicians.  Diet plays a big role in fluorosis also, as Drs. Massler and Schour found when they compared Joliet, Illinois with Quarto, Italy after World War II[ii].  These two cities had identical water fluoride, 1.3 parts per million; however the Italian children suffered mottling at a rate of 60 percent, compared to “only” 25 percent of the American children.  The researchers concluded: “The higher index of mottling in Italy may be explained on the basis of difference in nutritional status.  It appears that as the nutritional status is lowered, the cells (ameloblasts) which are responsible for the formation and calcification of the enamel become more susceptible to the deleterious action of fluorine.” 

The pro-fluoridation view today is that fluorosis is not a disease but only a cosmetic problem.  This is a terribly superficial idea of fluorosis, for it fails to acknowledge the much greater concentration of fluoride in bone, which causes even greater damage, e.g. osteoporosis and cancer.  And it also overlooks the very plausible idea that fluorosis affects collagen throughout the body, not just in teeth and bones but also in the skin and connective tissues.    Dr. John Yiamouyiannis sub-titled his most recent book on fluoride “The Aging Factor” and, indeed, severe fluorosis resembles premature aging:  dull and stained teeth, stooped posture due to arthritis of the spine, halting movements due to joint pains, and excessive wrinkling of the skin. 



Tyranny is something done to you by someone more powerful, and without regard to your personal rights.  When a law rams something down your throat, violating your personal health, this is fascism, even if it is well-intentioned.  Assemblywoman Speier and Governor Wilson joined forces for the good but against the Will of the People of California who have repeatedly rejected fluoridation.  Until now only 17 percent of California cities had accepted fluoridation.  Most of the time, when the voting public are properly informed about the questionable benefits and certain risks of fluoridation, they vote against.  I am forced to the reluctant conclusion that our legislative leaders, of both parties, have been duped by pro-fluoridation lobbyists.  They have become reluctant fascists--for our own good!

Who are these lobbyists?  They are those who stand to gain the most from mandatory fluoridation.  1)  The fertilizer and aluminum industries generate fluoride wastes.  These wastes make up most of the chemical fluorides that are placed in our water.  Instead of paying over $7000 per truckload to dump the industrial waste fluorides in specially secure dump-sites (fluoride can eat through glass and concrete), the industrialists instead are paid hundreds of dollars per load to sell these toxic wastes as mass medication.  2) The American Dental Association, dominates a docile profession.  Dentists are still using mercury fillings despite the high risk of intestinal disorder, auto-immune disease, and neurological symptoms.  The risk of harm to patients is certain.  And the risk of persecution is considerable if dentists dare to remove such fillings and work with safer materials. For a dentist to speak against fluoridation is considered an equally unprofessional act; and dentists don’t want to talk about it or against it.  Thus, the ADA, a professional society, is censoring the information and the opinions of its own members.  3) The United States Public Health Service seems to be equally status quo regarding the toxicology of fluoride.  There is a lot of money and prestige at stake.  Bureaucrats are understandably afraid to offend wealthy and powerful industrial interests.  They are also reluctant to admit they have been promoting a pseudo-scientific program for over fifty years.

Those who speak up are intimidated or fired outright.  Dr. William Marcus was lucky to win his job back, even though he was in the right and had served with distinction for 25 years at the United States Environmental Protection Agency.  If we want direct and honest answers we have to ask the researchers after they have retired.  Dr. Burk was very outspoken--after he retired.  And so was Dr. Hubert Arnold, a retired professor of statistics at University of California at Davis.  He wrote to a fluoridation advocate at UC San Francisco, who had called Dr. Arnold regarding his class on how to recognize statistical frauds.  His comments were refreshingly direct:

“The announced opinions and published research papers favoring mechanical fluoridation of public drinking water are especially rich in fallacies, improper design, invalid use of statistical methods, omissions of contrary data, and just plain muddleheadedness and hebetude...By the way, a study by John Yiamouyiannis and Dean Burk on possible connection between cancer and waterborne fluoride was fairly tightly reasoned.  The statistical procedures were standard, and much better applied than in much of the Public Health work.”

It may surprise you to know that fluoride has never been approved by our Food and Drug Administration for any medical purpose.  A forthright legislator, Assemblyman John V. Kelly of the New Jersey General Assembly wrote to the FDA Commissioner in 1993:

“My concern originated from a report that the New Jersey Department of Health had conducted a study and found the incidence of osteosarcoma to be significantly higher in fluoridated communities versus non-fluoridated ones...The Food and Drug Administration Office of Prescription Drug Compliance has confirmed, to my surprise, that there are no studies to demonstrate either the safety or effectiveness of these drugs, which FDA classifies as unapproved new drugs.  The presence of these drugs on the market at this time appears to be contrary to the 1962 amendment to the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, which requires prescription drug applications to provide evidence of effectiveness and the 1938 amendment requiring evidence of safety.  There does not appear to be any scientific or legal reason for these products to be on the market at this time.” 

Statewide mandatory fluoridation was approved by the California legislature and signed into law by Governor Wilson over 2 years after this letter was written.  No resolution of the bastard state of fluoride as a mass medication has been accomplished.  The controversy goes on.  We are all potential victims--of the well-meaning arrogance of our health establishment and governmental officials.

Become informed and protect yourself and your community.  For more information: http://keepersofthewell.com/on_point.html 


© Richard A. Kunin, M.D. 2010

[i]  Singer L, Armstrong WD: Total fluoride content of human serum. 1969, Archs ora Biol, 14:1343-1347.

[ii]  Massler M and Schour I.  “Relation of endemic dental fluorosis to malnutrition.  1952, J Am Dent Assoc, 44:156-65.

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