Fluoride & the Brain: Déjà Vu

The alternative health community is at it again, once more spreading fear and misinformation regarding the effects of water fluoridation and the use of dental fluoride. In a post title “Fluoride Lowers Your IQ | A Debated Truth?“, Mike Barret of Natural Society cites a 2010 study titled “Serum Fluoride Level and Children’s Intelligence Quotient in Two Villages in China” to argue that the “great deal of controversy revolving around the addition of fluoride in many communities’ drinking water” is based on demonstrable health concerns. I’ve dealt with Natural Society before and once again the current study being cited does not actually support the claim being made. Citing studies done on the health dangers of high levels of naturally occurring fluoride in groundwater, exposure to industrial pollution, and occupational fluoride exposure as evidence against the controlled use of dental fluoride and water fluoridation programs is a common tactic among anti-fluoridationists. I have long maintained that whenever possible, one should read the original study. The study cited by Barret involved 512 children from two villages, Wamiao and Xinhuai, in China. The authors of the study describe the villages,

Wamiao and Xinhuai are located 64 km apart in Sihong County. Wamiao village, in northeast Sihong County, about 32 km northeast of Sihong, is a severe endemic fluorosis area. The mean fluoride level in Wamaio drinking water was 2.47 ± 0.79 mg/L (range 0.57–4.50 mg/L), and the prevalence of dental fluorosis and defected dental fluorosis was 88.56% and 38.98%, respectively. Xinhuai village, in the southwest part of Sihong county, about 32 km southwest of Sihong, is a non endemic fluorosis area. The mean level of fluoride in Xinhuai drinking water was 0.36±0.15 mg/L (range 0.18-0.76 mg/L), and the prevalence of dental fluorosis was 4.48%, with no cases of defected dental fluorosis identified (Xiang et al. 2004, National Standard of P.R. China 1997).

In the study children in Wamiao were found to have lower IQ scores[1] and higher serum fluoride levels than children in Xinhuai. In Xinhua 27.59% scored in the >110 range indicating “high intelligence”, 51.72% of children scored in the 90-109 or “normal range”, and another 6.2% in the <79 range, this is compared to only 8.11% of children from Wamiao scoring in the >110 range, 47.30% in the 90-109 range, and 15.31% in the <79 range. The authors came to the conclusion that the difference in fluoride exposure is responsible for the differing IQ scores after accounting for various factors. Take notice of the levels of fluoride reported for each village. Wamiao, where lower IQ scores were reported, had levels that ranged from 0.57–4.50 mg/L which on the high end exceeds the current Environmental Protection Agency’s enforceable guideline (4.0 mg/L) for fluoride in groundwater and is double the secondary guideline (2.0 mg/L) meant to protect children. However the village of Xinhuai, where IQ scores were higher, had levels of 0.18-0.76 mg/L which is actually quite close to the Department of Health and Human Service’s current standard (0.7 mg/L) for community water fluoridation and is below both the EPA’s enforceable and secondary guidelines. Both the DHHS and EPA’s guidelines are evidence-based, in general reflecting the current scientific literature and consensus, and they are amicable to review and revision. This is a great example of science in action. Rather than providing evidence that community water fluoridation is dangerous, this study actually is in line with the current guidelines and regulations. There is always room for more science, but continuing to the repeat the same canards over and over while crying “SHILL” & “CONSPIRACY!” at any dissent is not advancing science.

Further Reading:
Fluoride & Brain Damage

Fluoride & Heart Disease?

Fluoride & the Brain: Strike 3, You’re Out!
Fluoride & the Brain: The China Studies
Community Water Fluoridation: Guidelines and Recommendations
Your community’s fluoridation level can be seen at My Water’s Fluoride

[1] I will not delve into the issues surrounding IQ testing at this moment but I will direct my readers here for a introduction to the controversy


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13 Responses to “Fluoride & the Brain: Déjà Vu”

  1. Truthseeker Says:

    There are actually 14 studies confirming that IQ is lowered in children. Type in “IQ” and “fluoride” in Pubmed.org to read. IQ is lowered as fluoride binds with aluminum and other metals to the calcium deposits in the brain. From personal experience, I restored my thinking ability after 2 months of eliminating fluoride the best I could, from showers, water, fluoridated medicine, and high concentrated foods. I have been a year free of it in regular American dosages, and my mind is sharp like it was when I was a teenager. Before, I would have trouble even trying to compose this message thoughtfully. So yes these are valid studies and should not be dismissed. Neither should all the data against fluoride be dismissed. If there was even one study that said a poisonous substance should not be in the drinking water, we should eliminate it until further studies are conducted to save our populace from undo harm. But in the case of fluoride, there is actually over 100 studies against it that you can read in Pubmed.org. As a society we are ove rfluoridated, as we get over the amount that our government says we can safely have. We get it in meds, water, drinks, and food. Our ppm is way over the 4ppm that is safe. Even if fluoride was safe to consume, there is no regulation on dosage and a person can get too much of a good thing. If people want fluoride, they can simply supplement it themselves. Not sure why people are forced to take it especially since 1% of the population gets very ill from it and is allergic. Not to mention the fluoride we get is not pharmaceutical grade but rather a by-product of the fertilizer company that was tested to have arsenic, mercury, lead and aluminum in it. So in other words, are you advocating that our children and populace, no matter what studies say, to still ingest this substance? That is like telling people to smoke cigarettes even though there are studies that say it kills you. Doesn’t make sense. Please also read the EPAs warnings of giving fluoride to children under 7.

    • skepticalvegan Says:

      I know how to use Pubmed, I utilize it all the time. Requesting someone else perform such a search is not how one presents evidence to others, you need to make your case for yourself. Don’t ask me to do a Pubmed search that will yield both relevant and irrelevant studies of varying quality, cite specific studies yourself.

  2. Steve Savage Says:

    Excellent point. Reading the actual article is generally a good idea with scientific publications. It is done too rarely by those with an agenda

    • skepticalvegan Says:

      It is done too rarely by those with an agenda

      Yeah, I’m definitely noticing that…

      • presentandbeing Says:

        I also noticed that you didn’t respond to any of the points that Truthseeker made instead just reprimanding him/her for suggesting that you might use Pubmed. Avoidance?

        • skepticalvegan Says:

          I DID address their comment where they said

          There are actually 14 studies confirming that IQ is lowered in children.

          First, if you want to cite studies that support your position you NEED TO LINK TO THEM not just make vague reference to them without even naming them. It is a lazy tactic to put all the burden of research on the other party. But I DID go and look up the studies (its more than 14) and NON of them support Truthseekers claim. For my review of these studies read here.

  3. Cornelius Brunson Says:

    Nice catch! Although it struck me as odd that the “Environmental Health Perspectives” link at the bottom of Barrett’s post would link to a PDF hosted on the East County Magazine site. It turns out that EHP withdrew the paper last year because it contained previously-published results — namely those of “Xiang et al 2003”, evidently the IQ study most frequently cited by anti-fluoridationists. While this doesn’t undermine the study (which, as you point out, dosen’t much matter), Barrett’s (and especially Connett’s) trumpeting of it without having recognized its authors, villages, and data speaks more to their zeal than to their rigor.

  4. Clay Tanner Says:

    It appears to me that this self-proclaimed “skeptical vegan” is posting on behalf of the EPA; the Dental Division of the CDC; or the American Dental Association as all 3 have their organization’s reputations at stake on the antiquated issue of fluoridation.
    The fact is fluoridation is neither safe for everybody nor effective at preventing cavities when ingested. The best book to read to understand the history of this public health scam is “The Fluoride Deception” by Christopher Bryson”.

    • skepticalvegan Says:

      It appears to me that this self-proclaimed “skeptical vegan” is posting on behalf of the EPA; the Dental Division of the CDC; or the American Dental Association as all 3 have their organization’s reputations at stake on the antiquated issue of fluoridation.

      Really, you think I’m just a government shill for fluoride? Have you bother to notice that posts about fluoride only make up a portion of my blog. Were all those other non-fluoride related posts just smoke and mirrors to hide my true allegiances? Accusations like this are lazy and childish. I heard it over and over, get a new real argument.

      I have a digital copy of The Fluoride Deception by Christopher Bryson, so far I find it unconvincing.

  5. maria Says:

    If you find nothing wrong with flouride in our drinking water, then why were the results of a governent study released saying it was bad for people and that it was going be be removed from municipal water sources?

  6. ulyssess Says:

    I’ve got a question, though, why fluoridate the water (even if the danger is moderate to little) if the dental benefit is already in the toothpaste? You are ingesting the water, in the first place.
    I’m not making any assumption, I’m just asking.

    • skepticalvegan Says:

      Because fluoridation adds protection that goes above and beyond use of fluoride toothpaste alone. Whenever you see a quoted figure such as “40% reduction in cavities” it is talking about the effect beyond toothpaste alone. It also serves those who do not have regular access to dental care such as the homeless.

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