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There are so many environmental and food pollutants to worry about that some inevitably slip through the cracks, such as fluoride and chlorine. These substances may appear to be fairly innocuous but the truth is that they pose real threats to our health.
It is interesting to note that US government health warnings are not only restricted to cigarettes, but also apply to fluoride and by-products of chlorination. And there is good reason.
FLUORIDE – GOOD TEETH OR ANOTHER POLLUTANT?
The US government requires that all fluoridated toothpastes and mouth rinses be labelled with a warning to keep them out of reach of children under six years of age and that they should not be swallowed. Why is this so, and why the controversy?
Toxic by-products of industry
Fluoride is not a nutritional supplement but a poison and by-product of industry. Like chlorine, also a poison and by-product of industry, it is being ‘dumped’ into our water supply. The ostensible reason for adding this poison to the water supply is to prevent tooth decay in children, despite the fact that little is known about the effects of fluoride on the rest of the body.
The shortsightedness of professional bodies is remarkable. It will become increasingly difficult to control the intake of fluoride as it increases in the food chain from watering, rain, etc. and as fluoride begins to appear in more and more products, ranging from toothpaste to drugs and cosmetics. Parents are even encouraged to give their children fluoride in tablet form.
The fluoride added to water is sodium fluoride and not the natural calcium fluoride, which is far less bioavailable. Sodium fluoride is far more soluble and easily absorbed. Fluoride is more poisonous than lead and only slightly less poisonous than arsenic. It has been used as a pesticide, rodenticide, anaesthetic and in many drugs.
Fluoride does not confer any health benefits to adults, and 20 years or more of fluoride ingestion may pose significant health risks. Opponents to fluoridisation are asking if it is wise to subject adults to the possible effects of chronic poisoning in order to prevent caries in children. Is there not a better way?
Does fluoride prevent the formation of caries in children?
It seems that investigators have failed to show a consistent correlation between anti-caries activity and the specific amounts of fluoride incorporated into enamel. Since the 1970s, caries scores have been declining in both fluoridated and non-fluoridated communities in Europe, the USA and elsewhere.1
Fluoride poisoning is linked to many symptoms and signs, of which the most well known is dental fluorosis, a brown staining and/or pitting of the permanent teeth. It is claimed that the amount of fluoride in water is insufficient to cause any problems, but in view of the water solubility of sodium fluoride (as opposed to calcium fluoride found in nature), the increasing amounts in the atmosphere and food chain, and the unreliability of the human factor (control of amounts used), it seems unwise and perhaps even unconstitutional to allow a poison into the water supply. In addition, one must always remember the possible synergistic effect with other chemical substances in the water and in the body, multiplying and amplifying the consequences of fluoride’s effect on the human body. In addition, subsets of the population may be un- usually susceptible to the toxic effect of fluoride and its compounds. These populations include the elderly, people with various mineral and vitamin deficiencies and those with cardiovascular and kidney disease.
There are also insufficient data regarding safe daily intake over the long term. Industries with fluoride disposal problems are often the ones controlling the bulk of research on fluoride toxicity. This toxicity has included reports of lower IQ in children, increases in incidence of hip fractures, chromosomal damage, stomach and bowel disorders, fatigue, a decrease in calcium levels as fluoride levels increase, a possible increase in heart disease and effects on the brain. Although the possibility of toxic effects is dismissed by government agencies and most medical scientists as insignificant, one cannot dismiss the fact that fluoride is a poison and therefore when used to prevent disease should be classified as a drug and subjected to extremely rigorous independent studies before being released into the water supply.
Did you know that your daily morning shower could endanger your health? Chlorine is a known poison, yet, like fluoride, is added to most municipal water supplies.
In addition there are a number of by-products of chlorination, which are also detrimental to one’s health. This includes chloroform, a known carcinogen that causes excessive free radical formation. It was a popular anaesthetic until banned by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the USA in 1976 when it was found to cause cancer. Another by-product of chlorination called MX is also a known carcinogen and is found in most chlorinated water. During your shower you not only inhale chlorine vapours but also absorb them through the heated skin. You absorb more chlorine in a 10-minute shower than by drinking eight glasses of the same water.
A major health hazard
Dr Andrew Weil calls chlorine a major health hazard. Chlorine gas was used by the Germans during World War I as a weapon of war. Chlorine, like fluoride, is another industrial waste product very profitably disposed of by using people as garbage cans. Chlorine is added to public drinking water supplies as a public health measure to kill harmful bacteria. The added chlorine reacts with naturally occurring organic matter in the raw water creating a host of chlorinated chemicals as a by-product.
Chlorine and its by-products are clearly poisonous and irritating, and short-term exposure to high levels can cause serious symptoms and death. Most swimming pools use chlorine, and although individual sensitivity varies, irritation of the conjunctiva, the mucous membrane of the nose and the upper respiratory tract are not uncommon.
Several human studies have investigated the relationship between exposure to chlorinated drinking water and cancer. Five epidemiological studies have shown a statistically significant positive association between chlorinated by-product exposure and risk of bladder cancer, and possibly rectal and colon cancer.2 Other studies have suggested a small increased risk of foetal deformities,3 while certain studies have linked drinking and swimming in chlorinated water to increase in the incidence of melanomas.4
In pointing out the risks of chlorine in the water supply it is generally emphasised that the chlorination of water is regarded as one of the most important public health initiatives of the 21st century. Every country has its own acceptable chlorine levels and within that country each municipality has to have its own controls, which may not always be maintained consistently. Again, one needs to include the effects of synergy in the equation. With so many other chemicals appearing in the environment, it is not at all clear how these will interact within the body and what individual sensitivities may be. Animal investigations have suggested a link between homogenised, pasteurised milk and chlorine in water which may cause clogging of the arteries.4,5 Chlorination spread throughout America in the second and third decades of the last century, about 20 years before the increase of heart attacks. Chlorine also destroys the protective Lactobacillus acidophilus bacteria in the small intestine and affects immunity in children.
Sensible safety measures
Substitute water treatments are in place around the world and should be encouraged. Hydrogen peroxide destroys infectious organisms and impurities 4 000 times better than chlorine, and ozone treatment is also very effective and is used in many cities.
Until governments move to change the way they sterilise water, individuals should use filters at the water supply – not forgetting the shower. Bottled water should be chlorine-free unless chlorine is introduced into the disinfection process or the source is questionable. Read the labels carefully.
The negative and insidious health effects of the pollutants fluoride and chlorine need to be taken seriously. We need to look after not only our health but also the environment. Be aware, educated and prepared.
EARLY SIGNS OF FLUORIDE POISONING
Researchers examining 112 cases of fluorosis in Ohio (USA), Italy, and Ontario and British Columbia in Canada found the following collective symptoms which tend to appear before the bones are affected:
Musculoskeletal:Arthritis, especially in the cervical and lumbar spine, muscle pain, pins and needles, inability to control extremities.
Gastro-intestinal:Gastric pain, nausea, vomiting, bloating, diarrhoea, constipation, acute abdominal episodes, inflammation of the mouth.
Neurological:Migraine-like headaches, blurred vision with moving spots, convulsions, muscular fibrillation.
Respiratory:Nasal and conjunctival problems, emphysema, asthma, nose bleeds.
Skin:Dermatitis, inflammation around capillary blood vessels.
Other symptoms:Cough, excess mucus, breathing difficulties, mouth ulcers, bleeding gums, palpitations, vertigo, difficulty sleeping, excessive thirst, excessive urination, frequent episodes of lower urinary tract disease, oedema in hands and ankles, joint pains, stiffness, rheumatic pains, rash, marked mental deterioration – mainly memory loss and inability to concentrate – tinnitus, fatigue and extreme exhaustion. Many people became bedridden.References
1. USA Department of Health and Human Services. Review of fluoride benefits and risks, February 1991; 31: 7.
2. Morris RD, et al. chlorination, chlorination by-products, and cancer: a meta-analysis. Am Journ Public Health 1992; 82 (7): 995-63.
3. Magnus PI, et al. Water chlorination and birth defects. Epidemiology 1999; 10 (5): 513-17.
4. Hattersley JG. The negative health effects of chlorine. J Orthomolec Med 2000; 15 (2): 89-95
5. Price JM. Coronaries/Cholesterol/Chlorine. New York Pyramid. 1969.
Hattersley JG. The case against fluoridation. J Orthomolec Med, 1999; 14 (4): 185-92.
DR BERNARD BROM, MB CHB (UCT), CEDH (FRANCE), DIP ACUP MB CHB (UCT), CEDH (HOMEOPATHY, FRANCE), DIP ACUP (SINGAPORE).
He is Chairman of the South African Society of Integrative Medicine (SASIM). Dr Brom started his practice in 1976 using a holistic approach incorporating natural medicines, homeopathy, herbal medicine, nutritional medicine and lifestyle management. His special interests include energy medicine, integration of the art and science of medicine, development of intuition, questioning the nature of health and healing, and a deeper understanding of the nature of Spirit in the practice of medicine.
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