"Fluoride appears to have the potential to initiate or promote cancers, particularly of the bone...," according to the most recent and extensive review of fluoride toxicology by the prestigious National Research Council (NRC). (1)
Fluoride chemicals are added to about 70% of public water supplies ostensibly to reduce tooth decay, not to purify the water.
In 2006, the NRC found the.The Environmental Protection Agency's Maximum Contaminant Level Goal (MCLG) for fluoride is too high to be protective of health (4 mg/L) and must be lowered. EPA scientists have been saying this since 1986; but EPA management caved to political pressure and over-ruled its scientists. EPA is long overdue in revising fluoride's MCLG based on the 2006 NRC Fluoride Report, which was done at EPA's request.
According to Bill Hirzy, PhD, retired EPA scientist, "Since 1986 the [EPA HQ professionals] union has taken exception to EPA’s unscientific approach to dealing with the toxicity of fluoride in order to protect the USPHS [Public Health Service] program of national water fluoridation." (2)
Hirzy writes, "When I last spoke with the Division Director responsible for that risk assessment he told me EPA was waiting for a paper, promised three years ago by its principal first author, that would counter an epidemiology study done under that very author’s direction at Harvard."
Hirzy is talking about a published peer-reviewed study by Bassin (2a) which links fluoridation to osteosarcoma (bone cancer). Chester Douglass, Bassin's Harvard University advisor and, at that time, employee of Colgate (sellers of fluoridated dental products) signed off on Bassin's work. But, Douglass told the NRC panel that no such study existed, according to the Environmental Working Group.(3)
The whole fluoridation program appears to rest upon the shoulders of Chester Douglass whose much anticipated osteosarcoma/fluoridation research has yet to be published even though it was promised years ago, costing tax payers millions of dollars.
At least three members of the NRC fluoride panel believe the MCLG for fluoride should be zero.
In a different study, Ramesh and colleagues propose that high fluoride bone content might have been one of the major factors causing osteosarcoma in people living in India where water supplies are often high in natural fluoride (Journal of Environmental Pathology, Toxicology and Oncology, 2001) (5)
The high levels of bone fluoride levels and the similarity of the mechanisms of action between fluoride-induced DNA damage and chemically-induced p53 mutations lead us to propose that high fluoride bone content might have been one of the major factors causing osteosarcoma, they write.
Mutations in the p53 genes are the most commonly observed genetic alterations in human cancer. Ramesh concludes that fluoride probably causes mutations in p53.
In another study published in the July 2001 "Journal of Epidemiology," Takahashi and colleagues write, "The likelihood of fluoride acting as a genetic cause of cancer requires consideration." (4)
Takahashi's team report that the National Cancer Institute provided epidemiological evidence of a relation between cancer incidence and water fluoridation in 1987. These findings provoked a 1990 National Toxicology Program (NTP) study that determined fluoride could be a cancer-causing agent.
The NTP study "supplied a detailed description of the toxicology of fluoride, not only in terms of osteosarcoma, but also lesions in the oral mucosa, thyroid gland, skin and uterus...(which) prompted us to re-test the hypothesis of an epidemiological association between water fluoridation and cancer incidences...", wrote Takahashi who found fluoridation status positively correlates to cancers of the oral cavity, pharynx, colon, rectum, hepato-bilary & urinary organs and bone cancer in males.
Such a broad spectrum association has never been observed for any particular known carcinogen, but it may be reasonable for fluoride, because of its strong electronegative nature, the authors explain.
Some studies, e.g., Hoover (1976) and Knox (1985) claim no credible fluoridation/cancer association exists. However, Takahashi and co-authors found the Hoover/Knox assessments flawed, and explain why in their paper.
After ten years of water fluoridation, children aged 7-18 in Newburg, N.Y., had more cortical bone defects than the non-fluoridated control city, Kingston. And more osteosarcoma occurred in young males in
fluoridated portions of New Jersey. ... these two facts may be connected pathophysiologically, Takahashi reports.
An April 2009 research paper (Biological Trace Element Research) reports blood fluoride levels were significantly higher in patients with osteosarcoma than in control groups. Sandhu and colleagues measured serum fluoride levels in three equal groups of age-matched and sex-matched patients. Group one had osteosarcoma; group two had non-osteosarcoma bone tumors; and group three had musculo-skeletal pain. (6)
“Mean serum fluoride concentration was found to be significantly higher in patients with osteosarcoma as compared to the other two groups,” write Sandhu’s team. “(T)his report proves a link between raised fluoride levels in serum and osteosarcoma,” they write.
More information about fluoride and cancer:
1) Fluoride in Drinking Water:A Scientific Review of EPA's Standards
2) Science Progress "Dude, Where’s My War on Science? An Attack on EPA’s Policy Process Fails Peer Review."
Comment #7 by Bill Hirzy
2a) Bassin EB, Wypij D, Davis RB, Mittleman MA. (2006). Age-specific Fluoride Exposure in Drinking Water and Osteosarcoma (United States). Cancer Causes and Control 17: 421-8.
3) Environmental Working Group "Harvard Fluoride Findings Misrepresented?"
(4) J Epidemiol. 2001 Jul;11(4):170-9.Regression analysis of cancer incidence rates and water fluoride in the U.S.A. based on IACR/IARC (WHO) data (1978-1992). International Agency for Research on Cancer, by Takahashi K, Akiniwa K, Narita K.
(5) J Environ Pathol Toxicol Oncol. 2001;20(3):237-43.
Low levels of p53 mutations in Indian patients with osteosarcoma and the correlation with fluoride levels in bone, by
Ramesh N, Vuayaraghavan AS, Desai BS, Natarajan M, Murthy PB, Pillai KS.
6) Biological Trace Element Research, “Serum Fluoride and Sialic Acid Levels in Osteosarcoma,” by Sandhu R, Lal H, Kundu ZS, Kharb S, Apr 24, 2009 [published online]