FLUORIDE ACTION NETWORK
FAN Bulletin 1067: Important News from Ireland
Before you read the article below, Doctors 'struggling to cope' with upsurge in hip fractures, which appeared in The Sunday Times of Ireland on April 12, and Professor Vyvyan Howard's response to the article (April 19), here is some important background information to put this story in context.
Ireland is the only country in Europe with mandatory fluoridation and with more than 70% of its population drinking fluoridated water it is well above the next highest country (UK at 10%). Most European countries do not fluoridate their drinking water and yet according to WHO figures their teeth are no worse than countries that do.
The Irish mandatory fluoridation law went into effect in 1963, and in the 46 years since the government has done NO (zero) health studies on the population - just endless studies on teeth and a completely BOGUS review of the issue called the Fluoridation Forum (2002).
While the epidemiological studies on a connection between fluoridation and hip fractures are mixed, in my view and the view of the National Research Council (NRC, 2006), the weight of evidence of animal studies, clinical trials and the epidemiological studies is that excess fluoride weakens bones making them more brittle and more prone to fracture. The most convincing of the epidemiological studies is the study by Li et al (2001) who showed what looks like a linear increase in hip fractures in the elderly drinking well water containing above 1.00 ppm, with the rates in the village with 4.3 - 8 ppm triple that of the rate in the 1 ppm village .
The NRC 2006 report requested the EPA Office of Drinking Water to perform a new risk assessment because the Maximum Contaminant Level Goal (MCLG) for fluoride --which is based on the "best" science at the time to provide a safe Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL), the regulatory standard-- was not protective of human health. Both the MCL and MCLG are 4 ppm fluoride. Two of the adverse health effects NRC wants EPA to re-assess are involved with fluoride's impact on the bone:
Bone fractures: "... the majority of the committee concluded that the MCLG is not likely to be protective against bone fractures." (page 3)
Clinical Stage 2 skeletal fluorosis: "associated with chronic joint pain, arthritic symptoms, calcification of ligaments, and osteosclerosis of cancellous bones ... the committee judges that stage II is more appropriately characterized as the first stage at which the condition is adverse to health. Thus, this stage of the affliction should also be considered in evaluating any proposed changes in drinking-water standards for fluoride." (pages 170-171)
Thus there is a strong chance that the increased rate of hip fractures (and maybe arthritis rates as well) in Ireland has something to do with the fact that those aged over 46 have had a lifetime of exposure to fluoride (in their water, in their toothpaste, in their tea, and in their Guiness! (see the Nun's Story on Guiness).
Remember each day approximately 50% of the fluoride ingested is mostly stored in the bone and accumulates there with age. Those with kidney impairment accumulate fluoride even faster.
Hopefully opponents of fluoridation in Ireland will force the government to take a serious look at the hip fracture-fluoridation connection- especially the Green party which is now a junior partner in that government and promised prior to the election that if elected they would end fluoridation!
The Sunday Times (Ireland) - April 12, 2009
Doctors 'struggling to cope' with upsurge in hip fractures
With population on the rise and more people expected to live longer, medics insist a 'national strategy' is imperative
By Jan Battles
Doctors at Dublin's Mater hospital say a national strategy is needed to cope with the burden that hip fractures will place on the health system as Ireland's population ages and life expectancy increases.
They predict a doubling in the annual number of hip fractures in less than 20 years, and warn that facilities are struggling to cope. There are just over 2,800 fractures a year, but this will exceed 5,700 by 2026.
Ireland has no national strategy for the diagnosis and treatment of osteoporosis, even though an estimated 90% of hip fractures are due to the brittle-bone disease. The audit found that women over 50 are three times more likely to suffer broken hips than men.
"The prevalence of osteoporosis is increasing all the time," said Kevin Mulhall, an orthopaedic surgeon in the Mater and an author of the study published in Osteoporosis International. "On the surgical side we are seeing increasing numbers of fragility fractures. Because of osteoporosis, the bone is fragile so it fractures.
"People suffer a lot with a hip fracture. It's a serious trauma for an older person and the results afterwards can be pretty devastating for them in terms of their level of independence."
According to the Irish Osteoporosis Society, one in five people aged 60 or over who fracture a hip will die within six to 12 months due to the secondary complications of osteoporosis. These include blood clots, pneumonia or infection from being bed bound. Half of them will no longer be able to dress, wash or walk unassisted. Only 30% will regain their independence.
Mulhall said: "The whole idea is to try and get continuous care where the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of fractures is all improved."
Before the study, there were no figures on how many hip fractures occur each year in Ireland. The Irish Osteoporosis Society estimates the government spends €420m a year on fractures suffered by senior citizens. This is estimated to rise by up to €2 billion by 2030.
Michelle O'Brien of the society said: "The average hip costs approximately ¤15,000. Including rehabilitation it is ¤26,000. Yet a scan for osteoporosis costs on average ¤100 and takes eight minutes. In the majority of people the condition is preventable, and it is treatable."
Earlier this month the charity launched a new radio campaign, fronted by presenter Craig Doyle, to point out that good nutrition can help prevent osteoporosis. Weight-bearing exercise is also advised.
Robin Webster, chief executive of Age Action, said: "One of the problems with falls is that they take older people's confidence. Rehabilitation is critically important. They become prisoners in their own homes because they are not sure - they worry if they go into crowds that they will be pushed or fall."
Ursula Andress, 73, a former Bond girl who has osteoporosis, is supporting an international awareness campaign.
Professor Vyvyan Howard's response letter
The Sunday Times (Ireland)
April 19, 2009
Further to your report Doctors 'struggling to cope' with upsurge in hip fractures ( News, last week ), the republic of Ireland is the most fluoridated country in the world. There is well documented epidemiological literature associating hip and other fractures with drinking-water fluoridation. It would be most illuminating to compare the reported hip fracture rates with those in unfluoridated Northern Ireland. This finding should be yet another nail in the coffin of this unwarranted mass medicaiton. We certainly should not be extending the practice in the UK.
Professor Vyvyan Howard
Molecular Biosciences Centre, University of Ulster