A letter to the Editor of The Healdsburg Tribune by Nancy Roberts
Editor: Dental cavities are bad, and I’m happy that fluoride in toothpaste and as a painted-on solution has kept my fellow Healdsburger John Murphy cavity-free for many years. But we fluoride “alarmists” don’t dispute the fact that, when applied topically, fluoride prevents tooth decay. The issue is whether this substance belongs in our drinking water.
On KQED FM on Nov. 21, the program “Living on Earth” – which has as its major sponsor the relatively non-alarmist National Science Foundation – looked at this question. Dr. Steven Peckham from the University of Kent in England was interviewed; he had published a paper earlier this year on the link between fluoridated water and hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid gland).
“We looked at the levels of hypothyroidism in general [medical] practice populations across England,” he said, “and found an association, or a risk, of higher levels of hypothyroidism in practices in fluoridated areas.”
Even more worryingly, the program cited research done by Dr. Philippe Grandjean, a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, which has found a correlation between fluoride exposure and lower IQ. Dr. Grandjean said: “We looked at more than 20 studies from China where they had compared children exposed to high [and low] fluoride content in the water. And on the average, the difference in performance among those kids was seven IQ points.”
Nor is it clear that fluoride in drinking water prevents tooth decay. The Cochrane Collaboration, a global network of doctors and researchers who analyze science to improve public health, has looked at links between fluoridated water and cavity prevention. Dr. Peckham: “Their main conclusions were that there was no evidence to suggest that it reduced inequalities in dental health … that it had a positive effect on adult teeth … [or] that if you stopped water fluoridation, levels of decay would increase.”
The Cochrane group did find strong evidence that fluoride can prevent tooth decay when applied topically, as in Mr. Murphy’s experience; and fluoride that isn’t swallowed doesn’t carry the potential health risks to IQ and the thyroid. But Dr. Peckham believes that we don’t know enough when it comes to fluoridated water.
Hypothyroidism causes a range of symptoms that include tiredness, mental sluggishness and weight gain (thyroid regulates metabolism). Having been diagnosed with the condition in 1984, I can attest to all three. Some women with normal thyroid function develop hypothyroidism after giving birth, and even mild or subclinical hypothyroidism has been associated with impaired fertility and an increased risk of miscarriage.
Bottom line: if there’s any risk that this substance affects thyroid function and intelligence – and there’s evidence to support that it does – it should not be in our water supply.
A full transcript of the “Living on Earth” program from which I’ve quoted can be found on the program’s website, loe.org. The program was called “Health Risks of Water Fluoridation Raise Concerns.”
In 2014 the people voted on Healdsburg municipal water fluoridation after being assured by a local dentist that water fluoridation is safe and effective.
Requests have been made to the Healdsburg City Council to secure the studies verifying the safety for ingestion by all consumers of Healdsburg’s fluoridation chemical. There has been no City Council response. The people’s response is this ballot measure.
Fluoride-Free-Healdsburg’s ballot measure calls for a moratorium on Healdsburg municipal water fluoridation, to remain in place until the specified information is provided.
Ballot Title: AN INITIATIVE TO INSTITUTE A MORATORIUM ON ALL MUNICIPAL WATER FLUORIDATION PENDING FURTHER INFORMATION REGARDING FLUORIDATING CHEMICAL.
Notice of Intent to Circulate Petition
Notice is hereby given by the persons whose names appear below of their intent to circulate a petition within the City of Healdsburg for the following purpose:
Text of Measure: The City of Healdsburg shall institute a moratorium on all municipal water fluoridation until such time as the manufacturer supplying the fluoridating chemical provides to the public
s/ Michael Lipelt, DDS, ND, 8201 W. Dry Creek Road, Healdsburg, CA 94558;
s/ Barbara Jean Rudd, 531 Brown Street, Healdsburg, CA 94558;
s/ Barbara Wentzel, 424 Haydon Road, Healdsburg, CA 94558