Throughout our childhoods, most of us grew up seeing advertising about the benefits of fluoride. We could only have strong, healthy teeth if we brushed several times a day with a fluoride toothpaste. But now that we’re adults, some of us are aware that supplementing with fluoride might do much more harm than good. And a big part of the problem lies in the “other” sources of fluoride beyond our toothpaste. In fact, new research suggests that, in addition to all the other problems associated with fluoride that we’ve talked about on this site, the fluoride in our water may be linked with a higher risk of diabetes.
The study, which was conducted at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, Ohio, found that common forms of water fluoridation may contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes.1 Fluegge, Kyle. “Community water fluoridation predicts increase in age-adjusted incidence and prevalence of diabetes in 22 states from 2005 and 2010.” Journal of Water and Health. 24 May 2016. Accessed 23 August 2016. http://jwh.iwaponline.com/content/early/2016/05/24/wh.2016.012. These findings were based on an analysis of public data cross referencing the levels of fluoride in water in a region against local diabetes incidence. A series of mathematical models was designed to evaluate diabetes prevalence as measured against water with natural fluoridation and added fluoridation.
After assessing water fluoridation and diabetes rates throughout 22 states, the researcher discovered that a one milligram increase in average county fluoride levels was indicative of a 0.17 percent rise in diabetes prevalence even after adjusting for age. Exposure levels to fluoride were based on the estimated per capita tap water consumption.
What’s more, since different treatment facilities add various types of fluoride to the water supply in their locale, the scientist compared what impact each type might have. He discovered that the kinds of fluoride added to the water that were most closely tied to greater numbers of diabetes cases are sodium fluoride and sodium fluorosilicate. Fluorosilicic acid was the only form according to this particular study that did not appear to be linked with an increase in diabetes in the area.
Sodium fluoride was the first kind of fluoride added to water supplies, but fluorosilicic acid is the most commonly used additive. And sodium fluorosilicate is the sodium salt version of fluorosilicic acid. But even if fluorosilicic acid was not associated with diabetes in the current study, all forms of fluoride have been linked to health problems. And most tellingly, the counties that did not add fluoride to their water supplies, relying instead on the naturally occurring fluoride levels, were found to have lower rates of diabetes.
Plus, water is not the only source of “other” fluoride that we consume. Aside from the fluoride toothpaste that we use at least twice a day as we brush, we are also ingesting fluoride in beverages—from Coca Cola to various brands of bottled tea—that use fluoridated water, as well as processed foods and pharmaceutical products.
While the current research was not set up to prove cause and effect regarding fluoride and diabetes, it certainly provides evidence that we shouldn’t ignore. Nor is it the first investigation suggesting a link between fluoridated water and diabetes. A 2009 study at the Center for Research and Advanced Studies of the National Polytechnic Institute in Mexico City, Mexico showed that fluoride exposure can impair our glucose tolerance.2 Garcia-Montalvo, EA; et al. “Fluoride exposure impairs glucose tolerance via decreased insulin expression and oxidative stress.” Toxicology. 19 September 2009. Accessed 24 August 2016. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19540901.
Even worse, fluoride has been noted as a contributing factor in a number of health issues, including cancer, arthritis, increased risk of bone fractures, kidney disease, thyroid disease, cardiovascular problems, and endocrine damage. And the United States is one of only a few countries in which widespread numbers of water supplies are supplemented with fluoride. Other than a few nations such as Ireland, Australia, and Chile, most governments seem ready to admit that this additive is harmful to our health.
But shy of moving to another country, it is possible to limit your intake of fluoride. Invest in a high quality water filter that contains filtering media specifically designed to significantly reduce the levels of fluoride in your water, as well as many other detrimental chemicals. Just don’t switch to bottled water—most brands contain fluoride, plus you’ll be on the receiving end of the toxins in the plastic that can leach into your water.
|Fluegge, Kyle. “Community water fluoridation predicts increase in age-adjusted incidence and prevalence of diabetes in 22 states from 2005 and 2010.” Journal of Water and Health. 24 May 2016. Accessed 23 August 2016. http://jwh.iwaponline.com/content/early/2016/05/24/wh.2016.012.
| Garcia-Montalvo, EA; et al. “Fluoride exposure impairs glucose tolerance via decreased insulin expression and oxidative stress.” Toxicology. 19 September 2009. Accessed 24 August 2016. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19540901.