In 1993, John Taylor Gatto – a former ‘Teacher of the Year’ in the New York City public school system – published, Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling. As the title says, Gatto was referring to compulsory public schooling, but ‘dumbing us down’ was quickly applied to many other things. But are you aware that ‘dumbing us down’ also applies – literally – to a substance that’s being deliberately added to… and that’s very difficult to remove from… public water supplies both in the United States and parts of the UK? Ireland remains the most fluoridated EU country – up to 66 per cent of its water is treated with fluoride. Britain has fluoridated about 10 per cent of its water – meaning up to five million people are still receiving fluoridated water. Birmingham was the first city to implement the programme in 1964. Other areas receiving fluoridated water are mainly in the Midlands and North East.
If the media had been doing its job, everyone would be well aware of the astonishing fact that fluoride literally reduces IQ levels. In mid-2012 a review published by – no, not any of those ‘rabid anti-fluoridation nuts’ – the Harvard School of Public Health linked a drop in IQ points to the compound! The title of the publication says a lot: Developmental fluoride neurotoxicity: a systematic review and meta-analysis.1
‘Developmental fluoride neurotoxicity’ in plain English means that fluoride is toxic to brain cells in developing organisms, including human children. So what’s this brain-cell toxin doing in our public water supplies? We all know what the excuse is: ‘tooth decay prevention’. But even if fluoride were effective against tooth decay, shouldn’t parents be given a choice? Many would surely choose to protect their children’s brains, especially when there are proven effective alternatives to fluoride.
In 1999, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) in the US proclaimed fluoridation of water as one of the top 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century.2 Since the mid-20th century, fluoride (actually a fluoride-containing compound not identical to naturally-occurring fluoride, but that’s another story) has been pumped into the water supply that’s delivered to 70 per cent or more of the communities in the US. An industry producing fluoridated toothpastes, mouth rinses, gels, and other products has flourished. Since then, we’ve been assured that dental caries in both children and adults have significantly declined, largely due to this widespread use of fluoride.3,4,5
Nice happy ending to a public health problem, right? Not quite…
Higher fluoride exposure linked to lower IQ
In July 2012 researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health published a review of fluoride’s effects on the brains of children, concluding ‘… results support the possibility of adverse effects of fluoride exposures on children’s neurodevelopment.’6 If you read this review, you’ll soon realize that the term ‘possibility’ is a bit weak; children who had higher exposures to fluoride in the communities where they lived had significantly lower IQ levels than those exposed to much less fluoride. In fact, the Harvard review reported that 26 of 27 studies they examined showed a relationship between lower IQ and fluoride intake.
Most of the fluoride studies in the Harvard report were based on research from China, India, Iran and Mexico conducted over the last two decades. Damage to tooth enamel, or dental fluorosis, occurs more commonly in China, where high fluoride exposure occurs from increased amounts in groundwater and from the use of coal in industrialized areas.
Evidence mounts on fluoride dangers
UNICEF (United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund) conducted one of the studies in the Harvard report. These researchers found that just 0.88 mg/l of fluoride in drinking water, below the so-called (until very recently) ‘safe’ levels of fluoride established for drinking water in the US and those parts of the UK that have flouridated water, lowered the IQ of children who were also iodine deficient.7 (Unfortunately, iodine levels are quite low in children and adults throughout the United States.)
Many of these studies included in the meta-analysis by Harvard were translated, summarized, and posted by the Fluoride Action Network (www.fluoridealert.org). Results from seven of the studies found lowered IQ in children with a fluoride intake of between 2.1 mg/l and 4 mg/l in children from communities in Iran8,9 and China.10,11,12,13,14 While critics claim that studies outside of the US or the UK aren’t relevant and don’t directly address fluoridated water, the levels of fluoride reported are levels that many children and adults in the US and fluoridated parts of the UK are exposed to when drinking water and using fluoridated products such as toothpaste.15
Four of the Harvard studies conducted in China found that a fluoride intake between 1.8 mg/l and 2.0 mg/l lowered the IQ of children when compared to the IQ of children who had low exposure to fluoride.16,17,18,19
A December 2010 study published in the Journal of Hazardous Materials documented the IQ-lowering effects of fluoride in children. Researchers looked at the relationship between fluoride and IQ from a different point of view – how much fluoride in the body, as measured in urine, and its relationship to children’s IQ. A rise in fluoride levels from .3 ppm to 3.0 ppm was associated with a 5-point drop in IQ.20
Even though it may seem hard to believe, there are actually those who claim that a small decrease in IQ is not relevant to the over-all population. But the Harvard review cited evidence that even small shifts have a big impact on the high and low end of the spectrum of intelligence, based on studies of other neurotoxic compounds.21
Fluoride causes brain damage
To date, more than 42 studies have looked into this association between fluoride and low IQ, with no less than 36 strongly supporting these findings.22 In addition to the IQ-lowering and neuro-developmental effects these studies suggested, fluoride may affect learning and memory,23 create thyroid problems,24 and, because it can easily cross the placenta, may cause foetal brain damage.25
It’s useful at this point to get an idea about how much fluoride we have all been exposed to and what amounts are considered unhealthy according to research. In 2011, a research study not included in the Harvard review came out warning against the use of fluoride in children and adults. The researchers wrote that, in amounts as low as 1 ppm, fluoride can damage the brain (it readily crosses the blood-brain barrier) and lead to brain and mental health issues. Above this amount, it’s known to cause dental fluorosis, or mottling and brittleness of the teeth.
The authors further caution that some of these changes might not be observed for 20 years or more after exposure. Study authors compared some of the brain changes seen as similar to those observed in Alzheimer’s disease,26 a comparison also made in a 2006 study by the National Academies of Science. A fluoride concentration of 1 ppm is the amount most communities added to drinking water for the control of dental health until recently; this is about 1 millilitre per quart of drinking water.27
The truth is, though, that 1 ppm is only the amount said to be added to drinking water, on average, in fluoridated areas, not the actual measured intake. Given that many products contain fluoride and are used in addition to drinking fluoridated water, the actual intake may be much higher. In fact, many babies may be exposed to high levels of fluoride from eating more than a few ounces of baby food a day that has been reconstituted with water.28
The Harvard Study was not the first of its kind to warn about the dangers of fluoride. In 2006, the National Research Council of the National Academies of Science – once again, not ‘rabid anti-fluoridationists’ – put out a 450-page report on their findings about fluoride and toxicity. It warned of possible damage to the brain and other health effects from exposure to fluoride, even at the low levels purportedly contained in the drinking water in the US.
The committee that compiled the report stated, “On the basis of information largely derived from histological, chemical, and molecular studies, it is apparent that fluorides have the ability to interfere with the functions of the brain and the body by direct and indirect means. To determine the possible adverse effects of fluoride, additional data from both the experimental and the clinical sciences are needed.”29
In 2008, two major reviews of the literature were published detailing similar findings related to fluoride exposure and reduced IQ. The fluoride levels covered in those studies ranged from a low of 0.88 mg/l to a high of 9.4 mg/l. In the first, researchers Connett and Limeback looked at 20 different studies and found that 18 of them showed results relating to lowered IQ when children were exposed to high levels of fluoride.30
A second major review of the literature published in 2008 cited 16 studies, many of them only available in Chinese at the time, showing an association between high fluoride levels and reduced IQ.31
Studies show fluoride has neurotoxic effects
Since 1999, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Union of Scientists has opposed the use of fluoride due to its neurotoxic effects demonstrated in studies.32
In 1995, however, well before these reports, Dr. Phyllis Mullenix demonstrated that fluoride added to drinking water and shown to produce similar plasma concentration levels as seen in humans was neurotoxic to laboratory animals. The neurotoxic levels that were observed varied with the age of the animal and ranged from hyperactivity when given to the very young to depressed in the older groups, with these effects lasting a lifetime.33 For her efforts in bringing this health issue to the public’s attention, she was fired from her position; see page 6.
Each of the studies reporting on the hazards of fluoride have been widely disputed by those advocating fluoridation of water, with claims that the studies reflected fluoride intake far and above what is experienced in the US or in fluoridated parts of the UK. In 1986, the EPA set the maximum contaminant level, or the highest level to which fluoride may be added to drinking water, at 4 mg/l.34 Interestingly enough, this is above the level reported in many studies to cause a decline in IQ as well as other health issues.
Perhaps in response to some of the negative studies, the US Department of Health and Human Services proposed in 2009 to lower fluoride levels to 0.7mg/l, down from its previously established range of 0.7mg/l–1.2mg/l. This was based on the possibility of tooth damage in young children at higher levels. This recommendation to lower the fluoride levels in water to 0.7mg/l was finally implemented in 2011.35,36
Unfortunately, this amount does not take into account the other fluoride-containing products people use in addition to drinking water they are commonly being exposed to. We’re exposed to higher amounts of fluoride through dental products containing it (95% of commonly available toothpastes contain fluoride), pesticides used to treat food crops (especially grapes), tea (roots of plants take up fluoride from the soil), processed foods and beverages, pans coated with Teflon, and other industrial uses.37
Fluoride isn’t essential to human or animal health
Cavities in teeth are not caused by fluoride deficiency – in fact, fluoride is not essential to human or animal health. Tooth decay is actually an infectious disease, caused by the bacteria called Streptococcus mutans. Fluoride slows the decay process when it is added to tooth enamel (hydroxyapatite) as fluorapatite which strengthens it against the processes of decay initiated by the infectious bacteria.
However, there is another mineral which Nature also builds into bone whenever it’s available. It’s strontium, a member of the ‘calcium and magnesium family’ of elements. Strontium helps bone to rebuild; all but one of dozens of women with whom I’ve worked since 2004 has had a significant increase in bone density using a vitamin and mineral formula (Osteo-mins AM and Osteo-mins PM) which includes strontium. No adverse effects have been reported from bone-building quantities of strontium, with two exceptions: when more strontium is ingested than calcium, and when strontium is combined with an unnatural, patented molecule called ‘ranelic acid’, which is sold in Europe as the patent medicines Protelos® and Protos®.
Teeth are of course specialized bones, so it’s no surprise that strontium has also been shown to reduce tooth decay. Since that’s not the main topic here, for a summary of research about strontium and tooth decay, see the book Trace Elements and Dental Disease by M.E.J. ‘Curzon Ph.D’, and T.W. Cutress, Ph.D.
Xylitol prevents tooth decay
Even better, research which proves that xylitol prevents – and in some cases reverses – tooth decay is no longer debatable. Xylitol is a natural molecule found in small amounts in everyone’s bodies. Please see the May 2012 issue of Nutrition & Healing, and the booklet Prevent Tooth Decay the Sweet Natural Way with Xylitol by Lane Lenard Ph.D. and me, available at www. tahomadispensary.com for more on xylitol.
Xylitol and strontium are widely available. Xylitol has been proven to prevent and even reverse tooth decay. Strontium lowers the risk of tooth decay. The only known ‘risk’ of xylitol is diarrhoea if too much is used; the only known risks of strontium are reported above. And unlike fluoride, neither xylitol nor strontium has ever been associated with neurotoxicity and lowering children’s IQ points!
It’s long past time to retire the dangerous practice of water fluoridation. Its day has passed. With the widespread availability of xylitol and strontium, fluoride in the water is as obsolete as black-and-white television sets. It’s time to pay attention to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Union of Scientists (1999), the National Research Council of the National Academies of Science (2006), and the Harvard School of Public Health (2012), all of whom found that water fluoridation is neurotoxic. It’s time to honour Harvard’s Dr. Phyllis Mullenix (see page 6) as a scientist with integrity, who reported what she observed – fluoride’s neurotoxicity – and suffered the consequences.
Most importantly, it’s way past time to stop dumbing down our children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and on and on into the future. Don’t we want our kids to have as many IQ points as Nature and Creation allows?
It’s long past time to send water fluoridation and its accompanying neurotoxicity to the ‘museum of no longer good ideas’, to be placed on the shelf right alongside asbestos and mesothelioma.
Wishing you the best of health,
Dr. Jonathan V. Wright
Nutrition & Healing
Volume 7, Issue 7 – July 2013
Full references and citations for this article are available in the downloadable PDF version of the monthly Nutrition and Healing issue in which this article appears.