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Why We Changed Our Minds About Fluoridation

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Why We Changed Our Minds About Fluoridation

by Richard Shames, MD & Karilee Shames, RN,PhD

Like many of our professional colleagues, we long held a belief that water fluoridation was beneficial and relatively low-risk. We now feel otherwise. We are convinced that it is of small benefit and carries an unacceptably large risk.

What changed our thinking so dramatically? 

While reviewing medical studies for a new book, we were shocked to learn about the disturbing fluoride-thyroid connection.

We had been a prevention-oriented doctor-nurse team for twenty-five years. We’ve raised three children and have always viewed dental care as an integral part of a complete health program. 

After training at Harvard and Walter Reed respectively, Richard worked at the National Institutes of Health and Karilee as a nursing professor, before settling into private practice.

Nothing on our medical paths shook our faith in fluoride. In fact, it was not until we were working with a New York publisher that we really did our homework on fluoridation. The topic of our book, Thyroid Power (HarperCollins 2001), was the unexplained skyrocketing of thyroid disease and its spin-off epidemics of fatigue, depression, anxiety, infertility, and overweight.

While researching influences on the thyroid gland, we were astounded by the large number of fluoride citations. We were confronted with long lists of articles from scientists around the world reporting in medical journals about the harmful effects of fluoride.

We discovered that in the history of history thyroid treatment, fluoride has previously been used by the medical profession to deliberately slow down overactive thyroid glands. 

At first this data challenged our medical and nursing education. But then we recalled being taught that no substance has just one action on the human body.  Every medicine has a good action, called “the benefit,” and other less desirable actions, called “side effects.”

In hindsight, it did seem odd that fluoridated water was touted as the only substance ever discovered that had a great benefit with no side effects at all. And it became similarly curious that fluoride was the only medicine ever to be added to public drinking waters.

At this point, we felt compelled to investigate further. After reviewing hundreds of articles and books, it became clear that, regardless of any other benefits and side effects, fluoride was a “hormone disruptor” – a class of chemicals that have the unintended consequence of altering the proper function of important hormones in the body, such as thyroid.

In the Archives of Oral Biology (1982, Volume 27), Kleiner found that fluoride interfered with proper metabolism of cyclic-AMP and thus diminished cellular energy.

A career university scientist showed us a textbook about the mechanisms of fluoride tissue harm. Kenneth Kirk in his carefully written volume called Biochemistry of the Elemental Halogens and Inorganic Halides, described fluoride’s remarkable disruption of enzyme systems.

We then consulted with a toxicology expert, who explained that fluoride progressively disrupts the sensitive G-proteins. These are the building blocks of our body’s hormone receptors. Subsequent research on fluoride/thyroid was just as worrisome.

While it’s well known that fluoride is acutely poisonous and caustic at high concentrations, we now wanted to know whether the concentrations in municipal water could help teeth without thyroid harm.

The data showed otherwise. Research by Galletti and Joyet, published in the prestigious Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism showed that fluoride in the range of 2-5 mg. per day (what people now ingest in a fluoridated area) was enough to slow down thyroid function. 

Thus, we came out “against fluoride” in our Thyroid Power book.  

But fluoride is not simply isolated problem for identified thyroid patients. As a widespread hormone disruptor it is very likely to be causing wider mischief, even at supposed safe levels.

This larger environmental issue became the topic of our more recent book, Feeling Fat, Fuzzy, or Frazzled? (Hudson/Penquin, 2005),  

With fluoride added to city water, millions of people are deliberately exposed to a hormone-altering agent.  There is now a massive epidemic of low thyroid, low adrenal, and low functioning sex glands. Many people rightly complain, “There must be something wrong with my hormones.”

Fluoride is, of course, just one of a great many environmental hormone disruptors. However, it is the only one we purposely put into our water. 

Perhaps the most sensitive among us are like the canaries brought down into the mines. They might be feeling the adverse effects first. Their vague symptoms of ill health could be the early warning signal for us all.

 

Richard L. Shames MD & Karilee H. Shames PhD, RN practice in Sonoma and Marin Counties and authors of three popular books for thyroid patients:  ThyroidPower, Feeling Fat Fuzzy or Frazzled, Thyroid Mind Power

Comments:

I am a former water operator who was injured in a fluoride accident.  I was exposed to approximately a liter of concentrated fluoride.  My accident was in 1997.  Back then even less was known about the cause and effect of fluoride.  

The fluoride put into most water systems is also contaminated with many byproducts at various levels.  The current testing required does not require these levels to be tested.  

I believe the effect on the thyroid is also causing many problems in our children. Increased levels of autism, ADD and other neurological problems could be caused by the hormone levels affecting the growth and development of the brain.  

My medical problems were laughed at by the Arkansas Health Department and the CDC.  Just because it was fluoride and it cannot hurt you.  Even though I was exposed to concentrated acid, they still couldn't admit you could be harmed. 

The Fluoride Deception is a great read on this subject.

Joe M. Walls

 

Whenever I read something negative about fluoridation, I do attempt to verify if there is any substance to a claim.  One article mentioned here I’d not read before, so I did my due diligence and took a look.  http://www.slweb.org/galletti.html
 
In 1958 Galletti and Joyet, published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism an article that looked at the therapeutic effects of high doses of fluoride for hyperthyroidism. Contrary to what this post claims.  Those researchers found that giving Sodium Fluoride at amounts 20 times what is provided in water fluoridation provided no significant effect in most cases. To quote the authors in their summary, “Our aim was to elucidate the inhibitory effect of chronic administration of fluoride upon thyroid function in cases of hyperthyroidism. It was demonstrated that such an action appears only occasionally among persons subjected to massive doses of this substance.” 
 
I appreciate the updated references Linda Rosa provided on this topic.  From those more recent reviews, it is clear that water fluoridation has no impact on the thyroid at the low levels that do have an effect on building stronger teeth and a healthier dental environment in the mouth.
 
Thank you for the opportunity to comment.
 
Emily Firman, MPH, LICSW 
Seattle, WA
 

 

This is more an infomercial than anything.  Fluoridation does not pose a problem for the thyroid.  Several systematic reviews of fluoridation found no connection to any adverse medical condition.  
This statement has been reviewed and endorsed by the British Thyroid Association (BTA):
 
"The available medical and scientific evidence suggests an absence of an association between water fluoridation and thyroid disorders.
 
"Many major reviews of the relevant scientific literature around the world support this conclusion. Of particular importance are:
 
"An exhaustive review conducted in 1976 by an expert scientific committee of the Royal College of Physicians of England;
 
"A systematic review in 2000 by the NHS Centre for Reviews and Dissemination at the University of York; and,
 
"A 2002 review by an international group of experts for the International Programme on Chemical Safety (IPCS), under the joint sponsorship of the World Health Organisation (WHO), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
 
"None has found any credible evidence of an association between water fluoridation and any disorder of the thyroid."

Thanks, 

Linda Rosa, RN
Loveland, CO

 

I was doing more research today and learned more about the impacts of fluoride on children under 6, since what an adult consumes would be multiplied in a smaller body.  My own daughter ended up with dental fluorosis and also bone issues that the only thing I can point to is that I trusted that fluoride would be good for her teeth.
Since i used well water, I asked my doctor to prescribe a supplement which I took while pregnant and gave her as she was developing teeth. I seriously regret my decision. It never occurred to me that she would ingest fluoride from other sources which could increase the daily dose - which may be why she has fluorosis. No way to tell for sure.

My personal preference is that it be a choice. I don’t like the idea of my water source containing substances that I could otherwise choose to ingest or not ingest. And then having to remove that substance in wastewater before it is sent out to sea through our river. The cost for individuals to take care of their teeth and choose to ingest a fluoride supplements is far less expensive than putting it in a water system then removing it before disposal. ~ Vesta

I am a former water operator who was injured in a fluoride accident.  I was exposed to approximately a liter of concentrated fluoride.  My accident was in 1997.  Back then even less was none about the cause and effect of fluoride.  The fluoride put into most water systems is also contaminated with many byproducts at various levels.  The current testing required does not require these levels to be tested.  I believe the effect on the thyroid is also causing many problems in our children.  Increased levels of autism, ADD and other neurological problems could be caused by the hormone levels affecting the growth and de elopement of the brain.  My medical problems were laughed at by the Arkansas Health Department and the CDC.  Just because it was fluoride and it cannot hurt you.  Even though I was exposed to concentrated acid, they still couldn't admit you could be harmed.  The Fluoride Deception is a great read on this subject.

Joe M. Walls