The Far-Reaching Effects of Water Fluoridation

By Caitlin Schille

Water fluoridation is a hotly contested topic in contemporary Western society. Lauded by some as one of the greatest public health achievements of the 20th century, other fringe groups blame it for rising ADHD rates and cite it as a cause of cancer. While water fluoridation certainly has clear oral health benefits, a new study conducted in England has found a potential link between water fluoridation and hypothyroidism.

This study examined data from almost every general medical clinic in England, and the data suggests that fluoridation of water may increase the risk of developing the condition of hypothyroidism. The data demonstrated that people living in areas where the public water supply was supplemented with fluoride were more likely to be diagnosed with hypothyroidism.

The study, published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, also directly compared data from two cities—one that fluoridates the public water supply, and one that doesn’t. Even after controlling for other factors in the development of the condition such as age and sex, the data was clear: residents in the city with fluoridated water were almost twice as likely to have developed hypothyroidism.

Why is a possible association with hypothyroidism important? Hypothyroidism means you have an underactive thyroid. The thyroid is a gland that produces hormones that affect almost every organ in the body. Why does hypothyroidism matter? In particular, the thyroid hormone regulates the metabolic rate of your body. Hypothyroidism is associated with weight gain and obesity, depression, and general fatigue.

Although this is a single study in an area needing further research, these results are already turning heads. Dr. Philippe Grandjean, an environmental health scientist and physician with Harvard University, had this to say concerning the study: “It raises a red flag…that possible interference with thyroid function needs serious consideration when regulating fluoride levels in drinking water.” Organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) continue to maintain that public water fluoridation is safe, healthy, and beneficial.

What do you think? Do the benefits of public water fluoridation outweigh the possible detriments?



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