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By SHARON COLLINS Health Correspondent, Sunday Mirror, 28th March, 1999.
NEW research claims that fluoride - hailed as the miracle way to prevent tooth decay - can actually cause serious damage to vital organs and weaken the body's defence system so that cancer and other diseases can take hold.
The disturbing survey shows that the chemical which is added to the water supply of 5.5million homes in England can affect the heart, kidneys and bladder. It can also lead to brittle-bone disease, early senile dementia and some cancers.
The purpose of fluoridation is to prevent or reduce tooth decay, particularly in children. The Government's Our Healthier Nation green paper last year said it was an "important and effective" method. And only last month it was announced that fluoride would be introduced into school milk and salt in Scotland to improve children's teeth.
But the new research from the University of San Diego in California could prompt a change of mind at Whitehall.
For as well as evidence about the harmful effects of fluoride, further research also points out that the children with the healthiest teeth live in areas where fluoride is NOT added to water.
The research, revealed this month in the consumer health report What Doctors Don't Tell You, was unveiled at the International Society for Fluoride conference in Washington DC.
Experts claim fluoride switches off a vital enzyme - the absence of which has been linked to cancer, severe disease and cot death. They also believe it could be responsible for hyperactivity in children - and a higher incidence of violent crime. That could occur, they say, because it assists the absorption of lead into the blood.
"This is perhaps the most damning evidence to date of the dangers of fluoride", says Lynne MacTaggart, editor of WDDTY.
The average dally consumption of fluoride by adults fn Britain is estimated at between 1.2 and 4.4 parts per million in non-fluoridated areas and 2.7 to 12 parts in fluoridated areas.
Lynne believes we are all at risk of "overdosing" on fluoride. "About 10 per cent of the population has fluoride added to their water and we should be questioning if it is necessary", she said.
"It occurs naturally in foods such as apples, and comes in toothpaste, dental floss and sticks and there are now studies showing that the average rates of tooth decay are lower in areas of non-fluoridation."
"A baby drinking six bottles of milk formula a day will get six times the amount of fluoride as a child of five who drinks juice and has one glass of water. Milk formula made (with fluoridated water) can contain up to 100 times the fluoride of mother's milk."
For Mhairi Macmillan Maxwell, even one fraction of a part is poisonous. Mhairi, 52, from Glasgow, is so allergic to fluoride that she dare not sip a cup of tea, eat apples and white fish, or clean her teeth with fluoridated toothpaste.
She had an allergic reaction at 13 when her room was sprayed with an air freshener spray which contained the propellant gas fluorine, a related chemical.
"Within minutes I was vomiting and coughing blood. I had terrible pain in my throat, head and ears. It was very rapid."
(The fluorine) damaged her immune system and she suffered from tonsillitis, abscesses on her spine, colitis and candidosis of the intestine for 30 years before the allergy was diagnosed. "I can't help wondering how many people are out there who have health problems but haven't made the link", says Mhairi.
Today she is in constant pain and takes 16 pills a day - painkillers, antihistamines, anti-fungals and betablockers.
Even though dentists are still convinced that fluoride can strengthen children's teeth, it has other known side-effects.
Prolonged intake of water containing more than two parts per million (of fluoride will result in) mottled teeth or brown discoloration, according to reports by the British Medical Association. And in Birmingham, where the water supply has been fluoridated since 1964, a third of children suffer from this.
Higher than eight parts per million may damage the liver, kidneys, heart, nervous system and reproductive organs "every area of the body", said Lynne MacTaggart.
"Fluoride is more poisonous than lead and only slightly less than arsenic. Why are we putting it in our water?"
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