The Effects of Fluoride on the Thyroid Gland
By Dr Barry Durrant-Peatfield MBBS LRCP MRCS
Medical Advisor to Thyroid UK
There is a daunting amount of research studies showing that the widely acclaimed benefits on fluoride dental health are more imagined than real. My main concern however, is the effect of sustained fluoride intake on general health. Again, there is a huge body of research literature on this subject, freely available and in the public domain.
But this body of work was not considered by the York Review when their remit was changed from “Studies of the effects of fluoride on health” to “Studies on the effects of fluoridated water on health." It is clearly evident that it was not considered by the BMA (British Medical Association), British Dental Association (BDA), BFS (British Fluoridation Society) and FPHM, (Faculty for Public Health and Medicine) since they all insist, as in the briefing paper to Members of Parliament - that fluoridation is safe and non-injurious to health.
This is a public disgrace, I will now show by reviewing the damaging effects of fluoridation, with special reference to thyroid illness.
It has been known since the latter part of the 19th century that certain communities, notably in Argentina, India and Turkey were chronically ill, with premature ageing, arthritis, mental retardation, and infertility; and high levels of natural fluorides in the water were responsible. Not only was it clear that the fluoride was having a general effect on the health of the community, but in the early 1920s Goldemberg, working in Argentina showed that fluoride was displacing iodine; thus compounding the damage and rendering the community also hypothyroid from iodine deficiency.
This was the basis of the research in the 1930s of May, Litzka, Gorlitzer von Mundy, who used fluoride preparations to treat over-active thyroid illness. Their patients either drank fluoridated water, swallowed fluoride pills or were bathed in fluoridated bath water; and their thyroid function was as a result, greatly depressed. The use in 1937 of fluorotyrosine for this purpose showed how effective this treatment was; but the effectiveness was difficult to predict and many patients suffered total thyroid loss. So it was given a new role and received a new name, Pardinon. It was marketed not for over-active thyroid disease but as a pesticide. (Note the manufacturer of fluorotyrosine was IG Farben who also made sarin, a gas used in World War II).
This bit of history illustrates the fact that fluorides are dangerous in general and in particular highly damaging to the thyroid gland, a matter to which I shall return shortly. While it is unlikely that it will be disputed that fluorides are toxic - let us be reminded that they are Schedule 2 Poisons under the Poisons Act 1972, the matter in dispute is the level of toxicity attributable to given amounts; in today’s context the degree of damage caused by given concentrations in the water supply. While admitting its toxicity, proponents rely on the fact that it is diluted and therefore, it is claimed, unlikely to have deleterious effects.
It seems to me that we must be aware of how fluoride does its damage. It is an enzyme poison. Enzymes are complex protein compounds that vastly speed up biological chemical reactions while themselves remaining unchanged. As we speak, there occurs in all of us a vast multitude of these reactions to maintain life and produce the energy to sustain it. The chains of amino acids that make up these complex proteins are linked by simple compounds called amides; and it is with these that fluorine molecules react, splitting and distorting them, thus damaging the enzymes and their activity. Let it be said at once, this effect can occur at extraordinary low concentrations; even lower than the one part per million which is the dilution proposed for fluoridation in our water supply.
Moreover, fluorides are cumulative and build up steadily with ingestion of fluoride from all sources, which include not just water but the air we breathe and the food we eat. The use of fluoride toothpaste in dental hygiene and the coating of teeth are further sources of substantial levels of fluoride intake. The body can only eliminate half of the total intake, which means that the older you are the more fluoride will have accumulated in your body. Inevitably this means the ageing population is particularly targeted. And even worse for the very young there is a major element of risk in baby formula made with fluoridated water. The extreme sensitivity of the very young to fluoride toxicity makes this unacceptable. Since there are so many sources of fluoride in our everyday living, it will prove impossible to maintain an average level of 1ppm as is suggested.
First the immune system. The distortion of protein structure causes the immune proteins to fail to recognise body proteins, and so instigate an attack on them, which is Autoimmune Disease. Autoimmune diseases constitute a body of disease processes troubling many thousands of people: Rheumatoid Arthritis, Systemic Lupus Erythematosis, Asthma and Systemic Sclerosis are examples; but in my particular context today, thyroid antibodies will be produced which will cause Thyroiditis resulting in the common hypothyroid disease, Hashimoto’s Disease and the hyperthyroidism of Graves’ Disease.
Musculo Skeletal damage results further from the enzyme toxic effect; the collagen tissue of which muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones are made, is damaged. Rheumatoid illness, osteoporosis and deformation of bones inevitably follow. This toxic effect extends to the ameloblasts making tooth enamel, which is consequently weakened and then made brittle; and its visible appearance is, of course, dental fluorosis.
The enzyme poison effect extends to our genes; DNA cannot repair itself, and chromosomes are damaged. Work at the University of Missouri showed genital damage, targeting ovaries and testes. Also affected is inter uterine growth and development of the foetus, especially the nervous system. Increased incidence of Down’s Syndrome has been documented.
Fluorides are mutagenic. That is, they can cause the uncontrolled proliferation of cells we call cancer. This applies to cancer anywhere in the body; but bones are particularly picked out. The incidence of osteosarcoma in a study reporting in 1991 showed an unbelievable 50% increase. A report in 1955 in the New England Journal of Medicine showed a 400% increase in cancer of the thyroid in San Francisco during the period their water was fluoridated.
Perhaps I may remind you about thyroid disease. The thyroid gland produces hormones which control our metabolism - the rate at which we burn our fuel. Deficiency is relatively common, much more than is generally accepted by many medical authorities: a figure of 1:4 or 1:3 by mid life is more likely. The illness is insidious in its onset and progression. People become tired, cold, overweight, depressed, constipated; they suffer arthritis, hair loss, infertility, atherosclerosis and chronic illness. Sadly, it is poorly diagnosed and poorly managed by very many doctors in this country.
What concerns me so deeply is that in concentrations as low as 1ppm, fluorides damage the thyroid system on 4 levels.
1. The enzyme manufacture of thyroid hormones within the thyroid gland itself. The process by which iodine is attached to the amino acid tyrosine and converted to the two significant thyroid hormones, thyroxine (T4) and liothyronine (T3), is slowed.
2. The stimulation of certain G proteins from the toxic effect of fluoride (whose function is to govern uptake of substances into each of the cells of the body), has the effect of switching off the uptake into the cell of the active thyroid hormone.
3. The thyroid control mechanism is compromised. The thyroid stimulating hormone output from the pituitary gland is inhibited by fluoride, thus reducing thyroid output of thyroid hormones.
4. Fluoride competes for the receptor sites on the thyroid gland which respond to the thyroid stimulating hormone; so that less of this hormone reaches the thyroid gland and so less thyroid hormone is manufactured.
These damaging effects, all of which occur with small concentrations of fluoride, have obvious and easily identifiable effects on thyroid status. The running down of thyroid hormone means a slow slide into hypothyroidism. Already the incidence of hypothyroidism is increasing as a result of other environmental toxins and pollutions together with wide spread nutritional deficiencies.
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