Fluoride consumption from tea and toothpaste damaged a woman’s bones, report researchers in Osteoporosis International published October 9.
Fluoride, added to water intending to reduce tooth decay, accumulates in and can weaken bones. To prevent bone damage or skeletal fluorosis, in 1986 EPA set 4 mg/L as water fluoride’s maximum-contaminant level. In 2006, the National Research Council reported that 4 mg/L is too high to protect health. Some brewed teas contain almost twice that concentration.
This case describes a 53-year-old British woman with a broken bone in her foot and abnormally dense bones and badly decayed teeth.
“A striking feature of our case was the very high serum, urine, nail and bone fluoride levels, to our knowledge the highest ever reported in a patient with [skeletal] fluorosis,” the research team writes.
Her standard breakfast tea measured 7.6 mg/L fluoride. She drank six 8-oz cups daily, made with low-fluoride water (0.3 mg/L) and therefore 11 mg of fluoride daily.
She brushed her teeth eight to 10 times per day.
“... it is not uncommon to swallow about 25 percent of the toothpaste applied to the brush,” report the researchers estimating their patient’s fluoride intake from toothbrushing at 4 mg/daily.
Adding 2 to 3 mg of fluoride from other dietary sources, this woman ingested “a chronic daily dose of 17 to 18 mg [daily], an amount sufficient to cause the skeletal changes...,” the researchers report.
Bone sample analysis revealed fluoride at a greatly elevated 15,144 mg/kg bone ash, above the level the National Research Council reports is indicative of stage III crippling skeletal fluorosis.
Since this patient didn’t complain of usual skeletal fluorosis symptoms—stiffness, joint pain, etc., or dental mottling, “[t]he case emphasizes the need to exclude [skeletal] fluorosis in individuals with unexpectedly high BMD [Bone Mass Density] levels,” the researchers conclude.
Skeletal fluorosis afflicts millions worldwide from industrial pollution or drinking water with naturally high fluoride levels, including India, China and Africa.
Previously published European and North American skeletal fluorosis cases were caused by excessive consumption of fluoride-containing tea or wine, fluoride-containing mineral water or fluoridated toothpaste.
“These studies report the effects of excessively high daily fluoride intake, but detrimental effects are also documented to occur gradually and insidiously at much lower levels,” said Attorney Paul Beeber, President, New York State Coalition Opposed to Fluoridation.