(NaturalNews) The issue of water fluoridation has been in the news recently, with the City Council in Portland, Ore., voting recently to start putting fluoride in the water supply (despite stiff opposition from residents) while voters in Wichita, Kan., rejected a proposal to add fluoride to city water in November, just as residents did in 1964 and 1978, the previous two times the issue came up for a vote.
But why all of the hubbub over fluoride? After all, it's a chemical that serves to improve our lives and our health, right? That's what the federal government has said for the past 65 years, since the United States Public Health Service began "recommending" cities add fluoride to water supplies.
The fact is research has shown repeatedly that long-term fluoride consumption can be extremely harmful, even deadly, and here are some reasons why:
Fluoride consumption leads to lowered intelligence. One of the most researched side effects of fluoride is what it does to lower your IQ. The most recent study was published in the Institute of Environmental Health Sciences journal Environmental Health Perspectives in August. Researchers from both Harvard University's School of Public Health and China Medical University in Shenyang, in a joint meta-analysis of 27 studies, found there were "strong indications" that fluoride exposure, particularly among developing children, is highly problematic for proper cognitive development and brain formation.
"[O]ur results support the possibility of adverse effects of fluoride exposures on children's neurodevelopment," Anna Choi, a research scientist at Harvard, and her colleagues wrote in their report. "Fluoride readily crosses the placenta. Fluoride exposure to the developing brain, which is much more susceptible to injury caused by toxicants than is the mature brain, may possibly lead to damage of a permanent nature."
Increased risk of cancer. According to a study by the Harvard School of Dental Health, fluoride in tap water increases risk of bone cancer in boys, at levels currently present in fluoridated water supplies.
"This is a very specific cancer in a defined population of children," said Richard Wiles, co-founder of the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a research organization based in Washington, D.C., that made the research available.
"When you focus in and look for the incidence of tumors, you see the increase," he told The Guardian newspaper.
Half of all fluoride ingested is stored in the body, accumulating in calcifying tissue such as teeth and bones and in the pineal gland in the brain, although more than 90 percent is taken into the bones, the paper said, citing the research.
Fluoride said to contain neurotoxins. This is especially true for children, whose brains are developing rapidly during their earliest years.
"Prolonged excessive intake of fluoride during child's growth and development stages has been associated with mental and physical problems," say researchers from the Dental Research Center and Department of Pediatric Dentistry, Dental School, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran, which was published by the U.S. National Institutes of Health. "Children residing in areas with higher than normal water fluoride levels demonstrated more impaired development of intelligence. Thus, children's intelligence may be affected by high water fluoride levels."
Fluoride can impede thyroid function. Another major problem caused by fluoride ingestion is the damage it can cause your thyroid gland.
"The effects of fluoride on various aspects of endocrine function should be examined, particularly with respect to a possible role in the development of several diseases or mental states in the United States. Major areas of investigation include . . . thyroid disease (especially in light of decreasing iodine intake by the U.S. population)," the National Research Council concluded in 2006.
The thyroid, which regulates the body's metabolic rate, is extremely important in overall human health. Chemicals like fluoride can cause thyroid disruption, and can especially cause the thyroid to under-perform (hypothyroidism).