Goiters and Fluoridation

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Goiters used to be a status symbol and dental cavities were common in children.

Iodide Deficiency

The area I grew up in has very little in iodide-containing minerals. As a result, both water and food from the area had insufficient iodide which caused men and women to get much enlarged thyroid glands (hypothyroidism), visible as goiter. Because this deformity increases with the length of time (of deficiency) it becomes more apparent with age. In fact, in several alpine areas goiters actually became somewhat fashionable and a sort of “status symbol” for having achieved a certain age and seniority. Increasing longevity then also meant an increasing occurrence of goiters in many populations worldwide.

goiter

Ever since the cause of goiter formation was recognized, starting in the 1920’s, common table salt has been supplemented with trace amounts of sodium iodide and hypothyroidism has disappeared in those areas where it was prevalent before the iodide supplements. A teaspoon of iodized table salt (1.5 g) now contains 70% of your daily iodide needs. Still, iodide deficiency appears to be a problem in many countries. For example, Wikipedia states that even now some 2 billion people are affected by iodide deficiency in their food and water.

Fluoride Deficiency

Fluoride deficiency is not much different from iodide deficiency. It just does not have the same effect. Some parts of our bodies, especially teeth are made up of fluoro-apatite (FA), a fluoride and phosphate containing mineral. Chemically, FA is similar to hydroxyl-apatite (HA) which makes up most of our bones.

In childhood, sufficient fluoride intake is vital to the formation of healthy teeth. Without it, FA is being replaced by HA, which is less resistant to the development of cavities. With that recognition, around the mid-1900’s, many societies began adding trace levels of fluoride minerals to potable water. The result was a seismic shift in the prevalence of caries-type cavities in such areas. Dentists observed much fewer cavities than before the introduction of fluoridation of water.

Fluoride Overabundance

Fluoride overabundance has negative consequences as well. It commonly leads to “mottled” teeth, i.e. discolored teeth by deposit of iron ions within the FA/HA of the tooth structure. It rarely occurred as a result of fluoridation but was due to excessive fluoride intake from either natural sources or severe failure of control. Most of the potable water supply agencies which were using fluoride levels of one part per million (ppm) in the past have decreased their levels to 0.5 to 0.8 ppm in recent years. This was possible because of general improvements in diet and increasing availability of fluoride-supplemented tooth pastes.

flourosis

The Anti-Fluoridation Campaigns

In recent years, anti-fluoridation campaigns have sprung up in many areas. For example, there are organisations like Fluoride Action (www.fluoridation.com), Fluoride Alert (www.fluoridealert.org), Canadians opposed to Fluoridation (www.cof-cof.ca) among others. They proclaim such idiocies as claiming the fluoridation of water is made with/from industrial wastes(scientific nonsense), or“not a single biological process has been shown to require fluoride” (unless you want healthy teeth), or “fluoride accumulates in the body” (because it requires it). Municipalities are increasingly being challenged with such claims. Unfortunately, most municipal leaders are unable to formulate science-based opinions about the subject and many are prone to follow the path of least-resistance – to the detriment of their constituencies.

Even professionals, like Dr. Robert C. Dickson (http://fluoridation.com/CalgaryFluoride/CouncilPresentation-DrBobDickson.pdf) are prone to misunderstanding the chemistry and effects of fluoride ions and proclaim total falsehoods like “[fluoride is] one of the most toxic substances.” His presentation also differentiates between dissolved calcium fluoride (from dissolution of the natural mineral fluorite), sodium fluoride (a component of many tooth pastes), and hydrofluorosilicic acid (the material used to fluoridate water in some areas). From a chemical or biological perspective this is nonsense. Fluoride anions (“F“) in water are identical with each other, regardless of the type of salt used and any acid will be neutralized to such free anions in most natural (alkaline) waters. None of these fluoride anions have any knowledge whatsoever of the salt from which they were derived upon dissolution in water!

To Sum Up

Fluoridation of potable water has brought benefits to many millions of people worldwide. Areas in which the natural concentration of fluoride ions is sufficient to provide for healthy tooth development do not need to fluoridate the water. Areas where the natural fluoride levels are too low for that should continue or initiate fluoridation of water. Both current and future generations will benefit from it.

 

 

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