You’ve probably heard of the term fluoride, but do you really know what it is? Fluoride is a combination of compounds made up from fluorine, the 9th element on the periodic table.
The compounds are usually found in plants, air, soil, rock and water. You may know fluoride as a compound added to public water supply, a process which is supposed to improve our oral health. However, studies in the 90s have shown that fluoride doesn’t exactly improve many things, and has also related it to osteosarcoma, a rare bone cancer.
However, with so much false information on the web, we really need to find a few sources that support one theory or the other. Current research doesn’t show a link between fluoride and cancer, and we’re going to show you why.
Why is there fluoride in tap water?
Dental cavities were a big problem in the USA in the past century, which is why the government decided to do something about it. After further research, scientists discovered that children who live in areas with natural fluoride were not suffering from cavities as much as those in areas with no fluoride. This was a huge discovery in the field of dental health. The first country to add fluoride to their water supply was Michigan in 1945. 15 years later, the cavities in children in Michigan and Grand Rapids were lowered by a whopping 60%!
Later, scientists found out that the safe level of fluoride in water is 0.7 ppm, and once it was established throughout the USA, the cases of decayed and missing teeth immediately feel down by nearly 70%. Fluoridated water can reduce cavities in adults by 20-40%, and fluoride is now found in all the public water system in the USA.
The debate about the dangers of fluoride stems from a 1991 study conducted by the US National Toxicology Program. The study discovered that male rats that are given high fluoride content for a period of 2 years were at a significantly increased risk of osteosarcoma. This wasn’t the case with female rats.
In 2006, a case control study conducted at Harvard University showed that boys exposed to fluoride from tap water were at a higher risk of osteosarcoma in their teens. Like the previous study, this wasn’t the case with girls. One of the theories is that fluoride collects in growing parts of bones, where the osteosarcoma develops during growth spurts.
Although fluoride can be found in mouthwash and toothpastes, they are not so controversial as tap water. If you’re worried about fluoride’s effect in toothpastes, you can buy fluoride-free products.
Is there a research which strongly links fluoride to cancer?
After the 1991 study, scientists decided to take a closer look. The scientists examined if bone cancer cases were on the rise since the introduction of fluoride in public water supply, but there wasn’t any change to the rate since the 1970s. Also, there weren’t any kind of changes in the rates in areas with fluoridated and non-fluoridated water. However, the study couldn’t have measured the fluoride exposure on an individual level, especially in people who frequently move between fluoride and non-fluoride areas.
In 2012, an ecological study found out that fluoride doesn’t cause bone cancer in children and teenagers. 2 years ago, one study examined a detailed range of fluoride levels in public water supply, and found no link between the compound and osteosarcoma even after sex, race, age, and poverty adjustments being made. All these studies were somewhat limited, but they are too many to be ignored.
Adding fluoride to water is one of the biggest public health measures which reduced tooth decay. The optimal level is 0.7 ppm, but in some areas, natural fluoride concentrations can be as high as 8 ppm. In these areas, scientists are working to reduce the level of fluoride due to the risk of skeletal fluorosis.
A few small studies have found a link between fluoride and osteosarcoma, but bigger studies have denied these claims. Due to this, water fluoridation is considered safe and even beneficial for our health.