Widespread fluoridation is thought to be a key factor in the decline of dental caries, and originated from a dentist's observation that children with mottled teeth, caused by a naturally high concentration of fluoride in the water supply, seemed to have less tooth decay than usual.(1) Although fluoride has been added to public water supplies for over 3 decades with apparently no ill effects,(2) experiments with laboratory rats raised concerns that it may cause cancer.(3) The findings prompted an in-depth analysis of over 50 human health studies conducted over the previous 40 years. The resulting report by America's Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) found no evidence of a link with cancer and gave fluoride the "all-clear"
Animal tests have indicated other harmful effects of fluoride but the DHHS report notes that sensitivity to fluoride varies widely between species, making results difficult to apply to humans.(4)
1) A.M.Lilienfield & D.A.Lilienfield, Foundations of Epidemiology (Oxford University Press, 1980).
2) Eg. see R.Peto & R.Doll, The Causes of Cancer (Oxford University Press, 1981).
3) Journal of NIH Research, 1991, vol.3, 46.
4) C.Anderson, Nature, 1991, February 28, 732.
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