Bone Fractures (Fluoride and its Deadly Legacy 8)

At one time, fluoride therapy was recommended for building denser bones and preventing fractures associated with osteoporosis. Now several articles in peer-reviewed journals suggest that fluoride actually causes more harm than good, as it is associated with bone breakage. Three studies reported in The Journal of the American Medical Association showed links between hip fractures and fluoride.(98, 99, 100) Findings here were, for instance, that there is “a small but significant increase in the risk of hip fractures in both men and women exposed to artificial fluoridation at 1 ppm.”(101) In addition, the New England Journal of Medicine reports that people given fluoride to cure their osteoporosis actually wound up with an increased nonvertebral fracture rate.(102) Austrian researchers have also found that fluoride tablets make bones more susceptible to fractures.(103) The U.S. National Research Council states that the U.S. hip fracture rate is now the highest in the world.(104)

A 2000 article in the journal Fluoride describes the bone effects of fluoride in detail.(105) Fluoride may increase bone quantity (osteofluorosis, osteosclerosis) but also decrease bone quality and bone strength. It is well known that pharmacological doses of fluoride increase the risk of torsion-type fractures (such as hip fractures) despite the appearance of greater bone density. Conventional medicine interprets the observed fluoride-induced increase of serum alkaline phosphatase concentration as a sign of osteoblast activity. Actually, it is a reflection of increased mortality of osteocytes within bone. Osteocytes are rich in alkaline phosphatase, which is released when the cells are killed by fluoride. It is unlikely, therefore, that a window of fluoride-induced bone benefit exists.(106)

Louis V. Avioli, professor at the Washington University School of Medicine, says in a 1987 review of the subject: “Sodium fluoride therapy is accompanied by so many medical complications and side effects that it is hardly worth exploring in depth as a therapeutic mode for postmenopausal osteoporosis, since it fails to decrease the propensity for hip fractures and increases the incidence of stress fractures in the extremities.”(107)

Fluoride’s deleterious effect on bone is well documented. Early experiments using large doses of fluoride as a treatment for osteoporosis had disastrous results. Dr. C. Rich warned that rather than strengthening bones, fluoride could cause osteoarthritis, as well as gastric pain, calcification of the arteries, and visual disturbances.(108)

Dr. Paul Connett cites two epidemiological studies suggesting a possible association with osteosarcoma, bone cancer, in young men living in fluoridated areas.(109) One is the report of the U.S. National Toxicology Program mentioned earlier, which first uncovered the epidemiological evidence of increasedosteosarcoma in boys and young men living in fluoridated areas.(110) The second is a study conducted by the New Jersey Department of Health. Dr. Perry Cohn studied the incidence of the rare bone cancer in seven New Jersey counties relative to water fluoridation. In fluoridated areas incidence of osteosarcoma in boys under the age of ten was 4.6 times higher than in unfluoridated areas, 3.5 times higher in the 10 to 19 age group, and over twice as high in the 20 to 49 age group.(111)

Scientists at Yale University discovered that doses as low as 1 ppm of fluoride decrease bone strength and elasticity, making fracture more likely.(112) Another group of researchers found that fluoride accelerated the development of osteoporosis.(113) A 1992 study of elderly patients found ‘a small but significant increase in the risk of hip fracture in both men and women exposed to artificial fluoridation at 1 part per million’. As with the bone cancer, the adverse effects of fluoride accumulation on bone strength were greater with men.(114)

Fluoride has the potential to increase skeletal mass to a greater extent than any other pharmacologic agent, yet it has proven difficult to translate this into therapeutic benefit for patients with low bone mass in diseases such as osteoporosis, according to a 1996 study by Michigan’s Center for Osteoporosis Research. This apparent paradox can be explained in part by toxic actions of the ion on skeletal mineralization, impairment of the normal processes of bone resorption, and fluoride-induced decreases in strength per unit of bone (mass or volume).(115)

Belgian arthritis researchers reviewed thirty years clinical research on fluoride in the treatment of osteoporosis. They point out that fluoride has a dual effect on osteoblasts (the cells from which bones are made). On the one hand, it increases the birthrate of osteoblasts, while on the other hand it has a toxic effect on the individual cell with mineralization impairment and reduced apposition rate resembling osteomalacia. Fluoride has a positive effect on axial bone density, they say, but the axial bone gain is not matched by similar changes in cortical bone. (The cortical bone is the hard outer part of bone where a bone’s main strength lies.)(116)

Among the studies cited, two show an increased rate of hip fracture among patients treated with high doses of fluoride (50-75 mg per day). (117, 118)

In an experiment on cow bone, fluoride treatment reduced the mechanical strength of bone tissue by converting small amounts of bone mineral to mostly calcium fluoride. This action reduces the structurally effective bone mineral content and also possibly effects the interface bonding between the bone mineral and the organic matrix of the bone tissue.(119) A Polish study published in 1999 found that treatment with fluoridated water decreases the bending strength of the femoral neck and shaft in laboratory rats.

A New Zealand review of recent scientific literature reveals a consistent pattern of evidence–hip fractures, skeletal fluorosis, the effect of fluoride on bone structure, fluoride levels in bones and osteosarcomas–pointing to the existence of causal mechanisms by which fluoride damages bones. Public health authorities in Australia and New Zealand have appeared reluctant to consider openly and frankly the implications of this and earlier scientific evidence unfavourable to the continuation of the fluoridation of drinking water supplies.(120)

Dr. Connett reports that, of eighteen studies conducted since 1990, ten have found an association between water fluoridation and hip fractures in the elderly.(121) “One study found a dose-related increase in hip fracture as the concentration of fluoride rose from 1 ppm to 8 ppm (Li et al, 1999, to be published).(122) Hip fracture is a very serious issue for the elderly, as a quarter of those who have a hip fracture die within a year of the operation, while 50 percent never regain an independent existence.”

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