A recent study carried out by the University of Kent has warned that around 15,000 people could be suffering needlessly from thyroid problems due to the presence of fluoride in drinking water.
Covering 98 per cent of GP practices in England, the research discovered that higher rates of an underactive thyroid were 30 per cent more likely in areas of the greatest fluoridation - in particular, the West Midlands and the North East of England.
Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral found in water in varying amounts (depending on the region) and is also found in certain foods and drinks, including tea and fish. It helps combat tooth decay by making enamel more resistant to bacteria. However, previous studies have also found that it inhibits the production of iodine, which is essential for a healthy thyroid. The thyroid gland, which is found in the neck, regulates the metabolism as well as many other systems in the body. Having an underactive thyroid can lead to depression, weight gain, fatigue and aching muscles and affects 15 times more women than men.
Speaking of the potential problems of fluoride presence in water Lead author Professor Stephen Peckham, Centre for Health Service Studies, has said “The difference between the West Midlands, which fluoridates, and Manchester, which doesn’t was particularly striking. There were nearly double the number of cases in Manchester. Underactive thyroid is a particularly nasty thing to have and it can lead to other long term health problems. I do think councils need to think again about putting fluoride in the water. There are far safer ways to improve dental health.”
Contradicting this, Dr Sandra White, Director of Dental Health and Public Health England argues fluoride is perfectly safe for regular consumption. “The totality of evidence, accumulated over decades of research, tells us that water fluoridation is a safe and effective public health measure, and shows no association with reduced thyroid function.”