Many people worry about developing cancer and unfortunately there are many scavengers who will prey on these concerns such that they claim almost everything around us causes cancer of some other toxicity. Some of them go to great extents as if they want society to live in caves in the wilderness!
Claims of cancer causing properties without convincing evidence is scare-mongering or alarmist. Usually the goal is to try to convince consumers to buy into some sort of alternative or to purchase a product that protects or minimises the claimed harms. We will try to produce a series looking at some of these claims.
Fluoride is an essential mineral needed by humans in preserving bones and teeth. Like most other minerals in overdose it harms through a process called fluorosis which in very mild cases causes discolouration of the teeth while in more moderate toxicity leads to pitting of teeth and in severe cases can cause severe crippling bone pain and kidney failure. Hence the importance to determine the correct dosage and safe limits. Calling it outright toxic is something frequent among pretend-experts (also called quacks) and those duped by them. Other minerals are likewise dangerous in overdose, for example iron can lead to liver failure, but they like to pick on a select few. They are usually drowning in the big business supplement industry which will often help them to decide which are the good and bad supplements with the decision often returning back to commercial benefits alone. So if they are unable to sell to a supplement they will sell you a contraption to remove the supplement in the flouridated water but first they need to convince the public it is harmful.
Naturally occurring fluoridated water
Fluoride occurs naturally in many water supplies in differing amounts and likewise in many crops such as black and green tea leaves. Water supplies with concentration below 0.3 mg per litre are regarded as unfluoridated whereas water supplies well above 10mg per litre are regarded as harmful.
Areas with unfluoridated water supplies were noted to have a higher incidence of tooth decay and so subsequently in 1945 US introduced supplementing the water supply with fluoride (called fluoridation). The UK started fluoridation in Birmingham some 20 years later in 1964 and this has been extended only to certain parts of the UK where fluoride is naturally low and is estimated to supply about 5.8 million people. This would mean that most of UK water supplies are naturally fluoridated and not supplemented. Having 0.7 to 1.2 mg per litre (equivalent to 0.7 to 1.2 parts of fluoride for every million parts of water; ppm) has been shown to have the best effects in preventing tooth decay as outlined by the British Dental Health Foundation.
Fluoride supplementation compared to some natural levels
Supplementation of water supplies aims to try to maintain the fluoride level at about 1.0 mg per litre (0.8 to 1.2 mg/l). In contrast to this UK economy branded black tea on average contains 6mg per litre, obviously most of us don’t consume tea by the litre. Premium brands of tea use younger tea leaves and so contain relatively less, with the common brands being about 4mg/l. Some natural mineral waters in Tanzania are reported to have levels of 95 mg per litre which would be clearly dangerous. On a side note many feel that because something is natural it is healthier for you; clearly not here. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has reported cases in India as follows;
Nearly 100,000 villagers in the remote Karbi Anglong district in the north-eastern state of Assam were reported to be affected by excessive fluoride levels in groundwater in June 2000. Many people have been crippled for life. The victims suffer from severe anaemia, stiff joints, painful and restricted movement, mottled teeth and kidney failure. The first fluorosis cases were discovered in the middle of 1999 in the Tekelangiun area of Karbi Anglong. Fluoride levels in the area vary from 5-23 mg/L, while the permissible limit in India is 1.2 mg/L. Local authorities launched a scheme for the supply of fluoride-free water and painted polluted tube-wells red: they also put up notice boards warning people not to drink the water from these wells. (Times of India / UNI, 2 Jun 2000)
So the question remains how much is the minimum recommended for healthy teeth and bones and how much is unsafe? In the US, experts recommend 4mg of fluoride daily for adults, with an “upper tolerable intake” of 10mg daily. For infants and young children the values are smaller, ranging from 0.7 mg to 2.2 mg daily.
Health inequalities linked to flouride
Public Health England (PHE) in April 2014 produced a report on their current statistical findings comparing naturally fluoridated areas (e.g. Manchester) to artificially fluoridated areas (e.g. Newcastle-upon-tyne). The naturally fluoridated areas have generally less flouride concentration but in some areas it is equivalent to the artificially fluoridated areas. Their findings were that on average artificially fluoridated areas had;
- 15% less likely to have had tooth decay in five-year olds and 28% less likely when deprivation and ethnicity (important factors for dental health) are taken into account.
- 11% less likely to have had tooth decay in 12-year olds and 21% less likely when deprivation and ethnicity are taken into account.
- 45% fewer hospital admissions of children aged one to four for dental caries (mostly for extraction of decayed teeth under a general anaesthetic).
- 0.8% more mild fluorosis with teeth mottling ( 1% as compared to 0.2% from an older study).
- There was no evidence of a difference in the rate hip fractures, kidney stones, Down’s syndrome, Osteosarcoma (a form of bone cancer) among under 25-year olds and overall cancer incidence
- While there was some evidence that the rate of deaths from all recorded causes was lower in fluoridated areas than non-fluoridated areas but the size of the effect was small.
- There was evidence that the rate of bladder cancer was lower in fluoridated areas than non-fluoridated areas.
Zamzam water comes from a well that initially sprouted in Mecca, which at that time was wild desert, for the benefit of the Prophet to be, Isma’eel and his mother, Hagar, the second wife of Abraham (alayhumu-salaam).
Zamzam water has many minerals within it and these can vary upon how far downstream the water has been taken. Due to claims of arsenic being present within Zamzam a study was undertaken by King Saud University to determine the mineral concentrations within Zamzam water at its source which proved the concentration of arsenic were well below accepted levels. It is an interesting read and can be found here.
For our discussion, the fluoride level was found to be from Zamzam well source at 0.72 mg per litre while downstream at the pipe sources at 0.68 mg per litre. This would very much put Zamzam water well within the naturally fluoridated water level as it is more than double the 0.3mg/l mark. Its salt compositions are summarised as per table.
From a religious perspective this pretty much demolishes the claims of Scaremongering by the likes of Meracola and his associates who claim a glass of water with 0.25mg of fluoride is too much, relying on flimsy evidence just so he can sell you contraptions that de-fluorinate your water supply at a premium. The equivalent of 0.25mg would be present in about 340ml of Zamzam water (which is the size of a can of fizzy soda).
Below is a clip from Meracola’s website where he endorses such positions.
Here is Meracola’s twitter account from a few hours ago again acknowledging fluoride is an absolute poison with no safe limits and denying any beneficial role despite convincing evidence.
The website HealthyMuslim.com has likewise followed in this scaremongering and we hope they rectify this otherwise they are inadvertently suggesting Zamzam water is likewise poisonous and carcinogenic, which from a religious perspective would be objectionable.
There is convincing evidence that fluoride is needed for health and overdose leads to harm. This is no different from other minerals such as iron, zinc, calcium etc.
Claiming ‘fluoride is toxic or poisonous’ is a sign of scaremongering either by pretend-experts, celebrity-experts (who have been morally corrupted by financial or celebrity goals) or one duped by the former two. It is from the likes of these statements that one will eventually go on to call medicines poisonous too.