This month a study allegedly linking cardiovascular disease and fluoride was published in Nuclear Medicine Communications and was almost immediately set up by anti-fluoridationists to bolster their case that fluoridation of water supplies is a dangerous conspiracy. The source of most of the misinformation seems to be an article written by Anthony Gucciardi in which he claims that “new research has linked sodium fluoride to cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death worldwide“, “fluoride consumption directly stimulates the hardening of your arteries“, and links it to water fluoridation saying, “sodium fluoride is currently added to the water supply of many cities worldwide, despite extreme opposition from health professionals and previous studies linking it to decreased IQ and infertility.” Gucciardi has a history of irresponsible science writing for sites such as Natural News and Natural Society and this latest article is no different, the study Gucciardi was reporting on was not about the use of dental fluoride or fluoridated water at all. In reality it was a retrospective study examining imaging data from 61 patients who received whole-body sodium [¹⁸F] fluoride PET/CT studies. PET (Positron Emission Tomography) scans use positron-emitting tracers, in this case the radioactive isotope fluorine-18, in the blood to produce a 3D image of the body and are an important diagnostic tool in oncology and elsewhere. It appears that Gucciardi grossly misunderstands or willfully misrepresents both the nature of the study and its conclusion that “increased fluoride uptake in coronary arteries may be associated with an increased cardiovascular risk“. Upon reading the actual study it becomes clear that it was not fluoride that was being studied as a risk factor , rather the study was examining the the usefulness of fluorine-18 to aid in imaging atherosclerosis and determining risk as clearly outlined in the Objective statement.
Objective The feasibility of a fluoride positron emission
tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT) scan for
imaging atherosclerosis has not been well documented.
The purpose of this study was to assess fluoride uptake of vascular calcification in various major arteries, including coronary arteries.
There you have it, the authors of the study we simply seeing if they could use fluorine-18 to image atherosclerosis rather than saying fluorine-18 induced atherosclerosis. But what about sodium fluoride? Sodium fluoride, along with hexafluorosilicic acid and sodium hexafluorosilicate, is used in small quantities to fluoridate water supplies or salt depending on where you live. Fluoridation has rightfully been called one of the most successful and cost-effective public health measures, saving millions of dollars in dental work and preventing untold cavities. Fluoride’s safety has been well studied and when it comes to heart health numerous studies (1, 2, 3, 4) show no positive correlation between fluoridation and heart disease or increased mortality, in fact numerous studies (1, 2, 3, 4, 5 , 6, 7, 8) show an inverse correlation with heart disease possibly resulting from reduced effects from dental infections. Contrary to what the anti-fluoridationists would have you believe, fluoride may actually have a protective effect for your heart. So next time you see a scary or sensational headline take a little time to look deeper, things often are not what they seem. Be skeptical, not susceptible.
Oh, and those claims some people make about how the Nazis used fluoride to dumb down prisoners? Totally and utterly baseless. Some people really do just make stuff up.
Fluoride & Brain Damage
Fluoride & the Brain: Déjà Vu
Fluoride & the Brain: Strike 3, You’re Out!
Fluoride & the Brain: The China Studies
Fluoridation: Don’t Let the Poisonmongers Scare You on Quackwatch
All About Fluoridation on Skeptoid
fluoridation of water on the Skeptic’s Dictionary
Fluoridation Facts from the ADA
When public action undermines public health: a critical examination of antifluoridationist literature by Jason M Armfield