It’s in the water

toothbrushNo parental paranoia column would be complete without a regular freak out about what’s in the water. I mean, we drink it, we bathe in it, we grow our food with it and we wash our clothes in it.

Last week I reported on the rocket fuel contaminant in our nation’s water supply. Let’s talk about a compound that is a little more commonly known: fluoride.

Many critics argue that the benefits of putting fluoride on the teeth do not apply to drinking water with fluoride, which barely touches the teeth. Now there is mounting evidence that fluoridated water can actually be dangerous, and may even be linked to cancer.

The National Academy of Sciences National Research Council has recommended that the EPA immediately lower its safe consumption levels for fluoride. The American Dental Association is now recommending fluoride-free water for powdered infant formula, and only after recommending breastfeeding for all infants, and ready-to-feed formula next.

“The damage to teeth caused by severe enamel fluorosis is a toxic effect that is consistent with prevailing risk assessment definitions of adverse health effects,” the committee reported in its press release. “A majority of the committee also concluded that people who consume water containing that much fluoride over a lifetime are likely at increased risk for bone fractures.”

As scary as increased risk of bone fractures and toxic fluorosis may be, the scariest health risk that may be linked to fluoride consumption is the one that may have been covered up by Dr. Chester Douglass, the chairman of Oral Health Policy and epidemiology at Harvard Dental School.

There is a joint Harvard and federal investigation into whether the money given to him by the Colgate company may have persuaded Dr. Douglass to lie about the strong association between drinking fluoridated water and a rare type of bone cancer in boys. Dr. Elise Bassin led the study, published in the official journal of the Harvard Center for Cancer Prevention. The research indicates that teenaged boys who drink fluoridated water have five times the risk of a type of bone cancer than boys who drink unfluoridated water.

I wish I could afford a full house filtration system. Dang.

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