A study conducted by English researchers has noted a correlation between areas that consume fluoridated water and an increased incidence of hypothyroidism, which can lead to symptoms like fatigue, depression and weight gain.
Researchers at the University of Kent in Canterbury are urging public health authorities to halt the practice of adding fluoride to municipal drinking water supplies after finding “that water fluoridation above a certain level is linked to 30% higher than expected rate of underactive thyroid.”
The thyroid gland secretes hormones that help the body regulate metabolism, heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature.
The researchers’ findings “could mean that up to 15,000 people are suffering needlessly from thyroid problems,” reports The Telegraph.
Scientists considered fluoride levels in different areas with data provided by the Drinking Water Inspectorate and compared it with the prevalence of underactive hypothyroidism as diagnosed by doctors in England between 2012 and 2013.
They also looked at the trend in two cities, West Midlands, where fluoride is currently added to the water, and Greater Manchester, which does not fluoridate its water supplies.
“After taking account of influential factors, such as gender and age, both of which are linked to increased risk of hypothyroidism, they found an association between rates of the condition and levels of fluoride in the drinking water,” a report regarding the study published by the University of Kent reads. “In areas with fluoride levels above 0.7mg/l, they found higher than expected rates of hypothyroidism than in areas with levels below this dilution.”
While acknowledging that the team’s research was “observational,” the author of the study, Professor Stephen Peckham, issued a recommendation urging health authorities to consider reducing public fluoride exposure.
“I think it is concerning for people living in those areas,” Peckham said. “Underactive thyroid is a particularly nasty thing to have and it can lead to other long term health problems. I do think councils need to think again about putting fluoride in the water. There are far safer ways to improve dental health.”
Professor Peckham also recommended to “stop those reliant on ingested fluoride and switch to topical fluoride-based and non-fluoride-based interventions.”
Public health authorities were quick to attack the science behind the findings, claiming that years of fluoride-tainted water ingestion proved it to be safe.
“The totality of evidence, accumulated over decades of research, tells us that water fluoridation is a safe and effective public health measure, and shows no association with reduced thyroid function,” an official with Public Health England said in response to the study.
However, other studies have found fluoride, listed by the EPA as a “Chemical with Substantial Evidence of Developmental Neurotoxicity,” to have detrimental effects.
A Harvard research study, for example, showed “children in high fluoride areas had significantly lower IQ than those who lived in low fluoride areas.”
Another Harvard study, covered by the London Observer in 2005, also found that “Fluoride in tap water can cause bone cancer in boys,” and that “boys exposed to fluoride between the ages of five and 10 will suffer an increased rate of osteosarcoma – bone cancer – between the ages of 10 and 19.”
A study published by General Dentistry researchers found that “Excessive fluoride consumption during the first 2 years of life is associated with an increased risk of dental fluorosis.” Researchers tested 360 baby food samples and found that “All foods tested had detectable amounts of fluoride.”
A 2006 Chinese study also found fluoride in drinking water “can cause damage to liver and kidney functions in children.
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