It was right there in front of me and I still couldn't believe it. Watching TV last weekend I saw an advertisement for a new product from Dannon: bottled water for kids called "Fluoride to Go."
The pitch? "Why give your child soda full of sugar? Instead offer them Dannon Fluoride to Go - a convenient, satisfying way to help your child build strong teeth." So now Dannon offers you a choice: you can give the kids sodas with all the added sugar, or you can give them water with all the added toxins.
What?Well, in case you didn't know it, fluoride is highly toxic. In fact, before fluoride was deemed a "cavity fighter," it was used as insecticide and rat poison. It's true. Even more surprising is that when it comes to dental hygiene, fluoride actually does more harm than good.
Everything you always DIDN'T want to know about fluoride
For decades the message that fluoride safely prevents tooth decay has been considered sacrosanct. This idea came from the same "chemicals for better living" era that also told us that smoking cigarettes soothed the throat.
Now for a brief history lesson: please switch off the lights and turn on the projector...
Fluoride is a pollutant - a by-product of copper, iron and aluminum manufacturing. The problem of how to legally dispose of fluoride was solved in the 1930's when a study (funded by one of the country's largest aluminum companies) concluded that fluoride prevented tooth decay. A successful public relations effort, helped along with some cooperative government cronies, resulted in the good news going out: this miracle chemical, when added to water supplies, will give everyone healthy teeth and brighter smiles.
Got fluoride?But does fluoride actually prevent tooth decay? Not according to the largest study ever conducted on fluoridation and oral health. 39,000 school children in 84 areas around the U.S. were studied in the mid-80's, and the results showed no statistical difference in tooth decay rates between fluoridated and non-fluoridated cities.
Meanwhile, tooth decay trends tracked by the World Health Organization from 1970 to the present show that the incidence of decayed, missing or filled teeth has been steadily in decline with each passing year in the U.S., France, Germany, Japan, Italy, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway, The Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Austria, Belgium, Portugal, Iceland and Greece. And why are the numbers of decayed teeth on the decline? Better oral hygiene and improved dental practice is the most obvious answer. It's certainly not the fluoride. Because of all of those countries, only one adds fluoride to the public water supply: the United States.
A few of the countries listed above used to put fluoride in some of their water, but they eventually wised up to the dangers of this aluminum by-product. And here's some truly radical thinking for you: many of those countries simply refuse to run fluoride through every citizen's faucets based on the idea that health treatments should be a personal choice and not mandated by the government. What a concept!
Downside takes a down turnSo how is fluoride bad for you? To start with, the irony is that when you consume too much fluoride, your teeth can become discolored and crumble. But that's nothing compared to the other ways that fluoride attacks your mind and body.
In tests on laboratory animals, fluoride has been shown to enhance the brain's absorption of aluminum - the substance that's found in the brains of most Alzheimer's patients. Three different osteoporosis studies have associated hip fractures with fluoridation. And excessive fluoride has been shown to damage the musculoskeletal and nervous systems, leading to limited joint mobility, ligament calcification, muscular degeneration and neurological deficits.
And finally (I saved the worst till last), a number of different studies have linked fluoride to as many as 10,000 cancer deaths per year, with a high incidence of bone cancer among men exposed to fluoridated water.
In the meantime, local, state and federal government agencies across the U.S. do their best to simply dismiss all this bad news. Unlike their European counterparts, they're sticking to their outdated and baseless claims that the stuff is good for you. Why? If I had to guess, I'd say it's because they're terrified that if they admit that fluoride is poison, the deluge of resulting civil law suits just might wash them away.
Consumer misreportsSo back to Dannon - what do you think? Are kids getting so little fluoride that they need to have it added to their bottled spring water? Consumer Reports magazine says YES! As you may recall Consumer Reports has been a target in previous e-Alerts for offering superficial and wrong-headed advice on health and nutrition issues. My beef with CR is that they are no more qualified to give me nutrition advice than my internist is qualified to tell me which air conditioners have the best ratio of energy efficiency to BTUs. And yet, they continue to get involved in issues they just have no place in.
Last February, Dr. Marvin Lipman, a spokesman for Consumer Reports, stated that not everyone is getting enough fluoride. The problem, says Dr. Lipman, is twofold: some communities don't fluoridate their water systems, and a lot of people these days are drinking bottled water which contains no fluoride. Ah, but don't you worry - in addition to Dannon, as many as 20 other bottled water pushers, are answering the "need" for more fluoride. And if you still think you're not getting sufficient fluoridation, an article in Consumer Reports suggests that you sign up to have 5 gallon jugs of fluoride-laced water delivered to your door.
But let's be perfectly clear: Fluoride is not something your body needs. No one has a fluoride deficiency. Fluoride is a false magic bullet solution from a bygone era. Now, 60 years after water fluoridation began, the word is getting out: this stuff is just plain bad. But thanks to Dannon and others, it appears that fluoride is about to take its toll on at least one more generation of American kids before someone overcomes the government marketing mindset and reveals this poison for what it really is.