On Tuesday, January 25th, Anchorage Assembly Members voted on whether they wanted voters to voice their opinions on the fluoridation of the Anchorage water supply on the April 4th ballot. All Assembly Members voted no, they didn’t want to hear the voters’ advice on the topic, except for John Weddleton, who abstained from voting, and Amy Demboski, who voted yes.
So why should this matter to you?
First of all, let’s look at the foundational philosophy and ethics on the topic of fluoridation. Most consumers understand that fluoride is added to municipal water supplies with the goal of preventing dental caries, or cavities. There is no other purpose because fluoride is not an essential nutrient for good health (there is no such thing as a fluoride deficiency). Tooth decay is a disease, indeed, the most common disease in the world. However, this means that as you consume tap water, you are being medicated. Not only that, you are being medicated for a condition that you may or may not have, at a dose you can not control. Additionally, before being administered this medication, you were not allowed the opportunity for a medical professional to explain the risks and benefits of the medication, after which you were not allowed choice in taking the medication. That’s called informed consent. That is a right, and you were denied.
Maybe that doesn’t seem like a big deal, giving up a single choice for the betterment of society as a whole. But is the public health really better off with fluoridated water? Studies show that since the introduction of fluoride to public water supplies in the 1940’s, rates of tooth decay have indeed decreased. And what about those rates in areas with non-fluoridated water? Well, tooth decay rates have decreased similarly. Unfortunately, that means little to no benefit from fluoridation.
“An analysis of national survey data collected by the National Institute of Dental Research (NIDR) concludes that children who live in areas of the U.S. where the water supplies are fluoridated have tooth decay rates nearly identical with those who live in non-fluoridated areas.”
Source: Hillman, B. (1989). New Studies Cast Doubt on Fluoridation Benefits. Chemical & Engineering News. May 8.
The most effective way to prevent cavities is to eat a balanced, nutrient-dense diet of fresh, wholesome foods, and avoid processed foods. So fluoridation isn’t beneficial. Is it then neutral? Hardly. A 2015 study published in the Journal of Epidemiol Community Health found that women from fluoridated areas in England demonstrated doubled rates of hypothyroidism when compared to non-fluoridated areas. Doubled! Hypothyroidism leads to hormonal imbalances, metabolic problems, and depression. Not exactly the kind of consequences that seem like reasonable trade-offs for (maybe) one less cavity. Additionally, correlations have been found between increased fluoride intake and decreased IQ in children, as well as increased ADHD prevalence. Fluoride crosses the placental barrier, where it affects fetal brain development, but has no effect on the future of dental health. Fluoride is even suspected to play a role in cancer development and is officially listed as a neurotoxin, alongside lead and mercury. Do we really need this chemical, that requires a HAZMAT suit to handle, added to our drinking water?
Luckily, there are actions you can take to keep yourself and your family safe from the toxic effects of fluoride. Drinking filtered water is a primary step, but not just any Brita will do. Making the investment to install an under sink reverse osmosis filtration system will provide you with a year of convenient, pure water from a tap on your sink before you need to replace the filters (my system came from Mat-Su Water in Wasilla). Make sure you also get some high-quality water bottles, stainless steel or glass, to take with you on the go. Most water that you access around the area, like water fountains and restaurant pitchers, will be fluoridated.
If you are concerned about the health of others that may be affected by fluoridation, make your voice heard. Join the Fluoride Free Alaska Facebook page and subscribe at CleanWaterTeamAnchorage.com. At this site, you can download forms to start collecting signatures so that this topic will not be swept under the rug in the next election cycle. Your family’s health depends on it.