The Truth about Fluoride

Fluoridation of community water supplies is a hot topic, not just currently in Wichita, but for decades, nationwide.  When this debate is focused on dental and medical issues, two major considerations arise:  does fluoridated water prevent or ameliorate tooth decay, and if so, is it safe to use?  These two issues are discussed in this paper.

If fluoridation does not prevent or reduce cavities (tooth decay), there is little reason to proceed with the question of safety.  On this premise, I submitted a “Letter to the Editor” of the Wichita Eagle on August 1, 2012, which presented data showing that fluoridated water does not alter the rate of tooth decay either in published community studies or in laboratory studies.  In fact, the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) in sworn testimony before a Congressional Subcommittee,  and the British Ministry of Health in written communication,  admitted that no laboratory study has ever shown that fluoridated drinking water (0.7  to 2.0 ppm) has ever been shown to be effective in reducing tooth decay, and “that there are no epidemiological studies on humans showing that fluoridation reduces tooth decay that would meet the minimum requirements of scientific objectivity.”  At the end of this letter I offered to furnish references.  A copy of the letter will be attached to this paper; it was not published by the Eagle.  See illustration no. 1.

So, in the following pages, I shall review a number of the early studies and the cast of characters involved in them, as well as some of the most recent studies on the efficacy of fluoridated water.  Following that we will review the adverse (think very bad) effects of fluoride and the role that the University of Kansas has played in studying them.   Key references will be annotated when appropriate, and several helpful websites and book titles will be listed at the end of this paper.

Initially, prior to the 1930’s, fluorides were used as pesticides, as was arsenic.  Thanks to the Industrial Revolution and the advent of iron and copper factories, and later the aluminum, phosphate, cement and nuclear weapons industries, millions of tons of highly toxic fluoride waste had to be disposed of, as safely and inexpensively as possible.

Now the story begins.  In the early years of the 20th century an enterprising young dentist, Frederick McKay, settled in Colorado Springs. He found that about 90% of lifetime residents there had brown stains on their teeth, and the enamel of their teeth had an irregular surface texture described as mottled.  This familiar condition was known as “Colorado Brown Stain.”  No one knew the cause of Colorado Brown Stain, but eventually Dr. McKay and G.V. Black, a dental researcher, proved that the cause was something in the water supply.  Then, in1931, water samples provided by McKay and Black were analyzed in the laboratories of the Aluminum Company of America (Alcoa) and, you guessed it, high levels of fluoride were found.  Since McKay had already speculated that the substance causing Colorado Brown Stain might result in resistance to decay, Alcoa recognized a possible way to dispose of toxic waste.

Later that same year, H. Trendley Dean, head of the Dental Hygiene Unit of the National Institutes of Health, was sent to study the water in 345 Texas communities.  How did that happen?  Well, it happened that Dean had previously worked for the U.S. Public Health Service, and while there his overseer and mentor was Treasury Secretary Andrew W. Mellon;  Mellon was a founder and major stockholder of Alcoa, and the Mellon Institute of Industrial Research is to this day associated with Alcoa.  See illustration no. 2.

In 1937, Dr. Gerald J. Cox, of the Mellon Institute, in “Dental Rays”, concluded, “It is possible that fluorine is specifically required for the formation of teeth.”  Next , in 1938, Cox wrote in the “Open Forum” section of JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) p. 1753, that there is evidence “that there is an optimum amount of fluorine essential for tooth formation,” and that the “optimum, of course, is below that which causes mottled enamel.”  Finally, in the JADA (Journal of the American Dental Association), 1939 pp. 481-490, Cox published his laboratory study of the effects of fluoride in the drinking water of the offspring of pregnant rats.  No change in decay rate can be seen in this study in spite of the use of fluoride concentrations up to 40ppm.  See illustration no. 3.

In 1938, Drs. Wallace Armstrong and P.J. Brekhus from the University of Minnesota Department of Biochemistry published a study showing that the fluoride content of the enamel of sound teeth is significantly greater than the enamel of teeth with caries.  In 1963, Dr. Armstrong and Leon Singer published a study in which the claims of the 1938 study were retracted (Journal of Dental Research, pp393-399).

In another attempt to prove reduction of tooth decay in children, H. Trendley Dean, whom we encountered previously, compared the effect of fluoride on tooth decay rates in humans in six different cities.  From the data presented its difficult to find a beneficial effect from fluorides, especially when viewed in a follow-up study in which Dean  moved East Moline from the low fluoride cities to the high fluoride cities because East Moline changed from the city with the highest rate of decay to the city with the lowest rate of decay.  (Public Health Reports, pp1443-1452, 1942)  These studies were reviewed by Drs. Losee and Bibby in 1970, and their conclusion, based on their study of six Illinois cities, was that Dean’s findings could just as easily have been correlated to strontium and boron content in the water as to fluoride.  Illustrations no 4 and 5.

Moving forward on the time scale, Dr. Eugene Zimmermann and co-workers from the National Institute of Dental Research in a 10 year study compared Bartlett, Texas (8ppm fluoride) to Cameron, Texas (0.4ppm fluoride);  the incidence of tooth decay was “examined statistically and no significant difference was found between the Bartlett and Cameron residents.”  (JADA, pp. 272-277, 1955)  The effect of fluoride on tooth decay rates in six Arizona towns was studied by dentist Donald J. Galagan; no reduction in the number of decayed teeth, or missing and filled teeth was found in the children of this study. (JADA, pp.159-170, 1953)  In a similar study of decay rates in areas with differing fluoride levels, conducted by Dr. Yoshitsugu Imai of the Tokyo Medical and Dental University, with 20,000 students, grades 1 through 6, decay rates in areas having fluoride levels from 0.2 to 0.39ppm were less than in areas having 0.4ppm or more.  (Koku Eisei Gakki Zasshik, pp144-196, 1953)  Also, I would be remiss to forget our Native American Indians who live on reservations which have mandatory fluoridation, and where the children living there have much higher incidences of dental decay than elsewhere in the U.S.  (Clinical Pediatrics, Nov 1961).

As another consideration in addressing the question of whether or not fluoride in drinking water reduces tooth decay, we should look beyond our borders and consider the experiences and knowledge of other countries.  Declining decay rates, in non-fluoridated areas and countries, including most of Western Europe, are equal to and sometimes better than those in the widely fluoridated U.S.  This statement is supported by data from Canada, Cuba, Finland, Germany, Italy, Great Britain, New Zealand and wherever else the data has been obtained-virtually world- wide.

Last but not least, an article in the JADA, 2001, carries the admission that fluoride swallowed and incorporated into teeth is “insufficient to have a measurable effect” on reducing cavities.

The second goal of this paper, as outlined at the start, is to cover some of the many toxic effects of fluorides.  As a launching pad, the biochemical/biological effects of fluorides will be reviewed which, hopefully, will enable us to understand and remember the many toxic effects of fluorides, and what they are doing to us.

The key to understanding the many toxic effects of fluorides is that fluorides, even at concentrations below 1ppm, interfere (poison) over 100 important enzymes.  These enzymes are proteins found in all living cells.  They act as catalysts, promoters, of all biochemical reactions that make life possible.  This is not a point of controversy.  The U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the World Health Organization and others have published lists of enzymes that are inhibited at fluoride levels of 1ppm or less.  (“Fluorides”, NAS, 1971, pp. 70-73), “Fluorides and Human Health”, WHO, 1970, p.183.)  As a counter to these facts, the supporters of fluoridation argued that the organ concentrations in people drinking fluoridated water would never reach 1 ppm. In fact, studies of organ concentrations before and after fluoridation reveal organ concentrations consistently above 1ppm.  See illustrations no. 6 and 7.

It was known for years that fluorides inhibit enzymes by binding with essential cofactors such as magnesium, phosphates, etc.  Then, in 1981, our understanding of enzyme inhibition was significantly advanced by Dr. John Emsley at King’s College in London.  He and his coworkers found that fluorides form very strong hydrogen bonds, actually the second strongest hydrogen bond ever found, with groups of atoms called amides.  Now amides form linkages between amino acids, the building blocks of proteins.  These linkages are broken by bonding with fluorides, thereby interfering with protein enzyme reactions.  And not only are enzymatic promoted reactions inhibited, but the distorted proteins may be misidentified or not recognized by the immune system, leading to attempts to destroy the distorted proteins, causing abnormal allergic responses and auto-immune reactions.  These responses to fluoride at levels found in one or two pints of fluoridated water are listed in the ‘Physicians’ Desk Reference and the “United States Pharmcopeia”.  Not to be ignored is the fact that DNA strands, think genes, are connected by hydrogen bonds.  Fluoride attacks these bonds, thereby damaging our DNA, thereby creating genetic damage which may lead to birth defects, cancer and allergy.  Notice that while fluoride causes a multiplicity of ill-effects, each of them results from disruptions of enzymes, other proteins and DNA.  See illustration no. 8.

To further understand the widespread effects of exposure to fluorides at drinking water levels, we need to be aware of the bio-accumulatively property of fluorides, and the biologic property of individual susceptibility.  Fluorides are impossible to remove from the body.  There are no chelating agents currently known that can attract and bind fluorides, and thereby remove them from the body.  This is probably due to the extreme strength of fluoride bonding to amides and proteins, including DNA.  By meticulous avoidance of fluoride exposure a gradual reduction of fluoride levels over a period of years can be obtained.  Thus, literally, an ounce of prevention (non-consumption of fluoridated water) is worth many pounds (16 oz. of pure water weighs one pound) of cure.  Continuing, the genetically defined characteristic of individual susceptibility will allow some individuals to tolerate, without obvious symptoms, levels of fluoride exposure that will devastate others.  However, population studies and disease and symptom lists strongly suggest that fluoride poisoning is widespread and growing.  Evidence of cancer caused by fluorides has been revealed in numerous population studies.  See illustration no. 8.  These studies are becoming more difficult to obtain because of the widespread use of fluoridated water.  However, in carefully controlled laboratory studies, the ability to induce tumors, by exposure to low levels of fluoride, has been shown in fruit flies and rats.  Increasing rates of cancer caused Dean Burk, Chief Chemist Emeritus, to say….”In point of fact, fluoride causes more human cancer death, and causes it faster, than any other chemical.”  (Dean Burk and J.A. Yiamouyiannis, Congressional Record, July 21 and December 16, 1975.)

With all of this information one has to ask the obvious question, could there be a link between the signs and symptoms of aging and fluorides?  The answer, as you no doubt expect, is a resounding YES.  First, fluorides interfere with the function of a group of enzymes known as DNA repair enzymes.  As people age this repair enzyme system slows down resulting in DNA damage which eventually leads to degenerative loss of various tissues and organs in a snowballing cycle, resulting in aging.  In particular, the production of collagen, a unique protein essential in bone and cartilage formation and in skin and vascular health is compromised by fluorides.  This occurs because collagen, a protein, is composed of amino acids linked together in a chain.  Unlike other proteins, collagen contains two unique amino acids, hydroxyproline and hydroxylysine.  When collagen breaks down, the hydroxyproline and hydroxylysine levels in blood and urine increase.  The presence of high levels of these two unique proteins, associated with low level exposure to fluorides, is considered conclusive evidence that fluoride accelerates the breakdown of collagen.  (Y.D. Sharma, Biochimica et Biophysica Act., pp. 137-141, 1982).  Collagen also is the base material that forms the foundation of our skin, the largest organ of our bodies (see illustration no. 9), and is also a crucial part of the walls of our blood vessels.  Wrinkling of skin associated with aging is due to diminished collagen.

Finally, the story of Dr. Phyllis Mullinex and her association with the University of Kansas Medical Center Department of Pharmacology needs to be told.  Mullinex came under the guidance, teaching and inspiration of Dr. Stata Norton, one of the first female toxicologists in the United States. “Normally, graduate students rotated through the various laboratories at the Medical Center.  But there was something different about Mullinex.  Phyllis came into my lab to do a short study—and she never left,” Norton recalled laughing.  Norton was a pioneer in the new field of behavioral toxicology.  Mullinex extended this work and was instrumental in the development of computerized behavioral pattern recognition, assisted by computer experts at Iowa State University.  This lead to great advances in the sensitivity of studies of the effects of chemicals on the central nervous system.  With intervening stops at Johns Hopkins and Harvard, now Dr. Mullinex became recognized as a leading neurotoxicologist, and was eventually hired by the Forsyth Dental Center is Boston to investigate the toxicity of materials used in dentistry.  Her first assignment there was to study the neurotoxic effects of fluoride.  “In 1994, after her research indicated that fluoride was neurotoxic, she was fired.”  (C. Bryson, The Fluoride Deception, pp. 1-29, 2003).

The preceeding paragraph represents only the tip of the fluoridated water supply cover-up.  That is a long, circuitous and fascinating story— for another time.  I have attempted to address, with well documented facts, the areas of decay prevention, or lack thereof, and toxicity of fluoridated water at drinking water levels.  This paper documents the ineffectiveness of fluoridated water in the prevention of tooth decay, and the pervasive toxicity of low level fluoride throughout the human body.  In essence, fluorides are ineffective and unsafe at any concentration.


Recommended reading:  Fluorine and Dental Health, Muhler and Hine, Eds., 1959 (This book promotes the use of fluoridated water).  Fluoride, the Aging Factor, John Yiamouyiannis, 1983 (This book opposes water fluoridation, contains 33 pages of scientific documentation , and was frequently referred to while writing this paper).  The Fluoride Deception, Christopher Bryson, 2004 (very detailed, yet humanized and not boring….contains information and data now becoming available through the Freedom of Information Act). (anti-fluoridation). (anti-fluoridation).,, (all reflect institutional endorsement of fluoridation…sometimes with qualifications and contradictions).


Dr. Hinshaw has been working with the No Fluoride Group personally and has scheduled some speaking engagements.  The first is today (10/23) at 11:30 at the Public Library. We will keep you updated with further speaking engagements. If you would like Dr. Hinshaw to speak at your event please                                call 316-682-3100 today.