JUL 11, 2016 12:55 PM PDT

Does Fluoride Cause Cancer?

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

Adding fluoride to public water supplies has been standardized in the United States since the 1940s. But decades after water fluoridation has become standard, there is still controversy surrounding the safety of this treatment. What are the risks of drinking fluoride?

Fluoride is a compound made from fluorine, a very reactive element. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 95 of fluoride added to public water comes from the phosphorite rock. The mineral compound is added at a concentration of about 1 part per million (1 ppm) or 1 milligram per liter - a very small amount that's only slightly higher than the naturally occurring fluoride concentrations of 0.3 ppm.

The intent of exposing people to fluoride-treated water is to prevent tooth decay. Fluoride binds to the tooth enamel, making the tooth more resistant to acid attack from bacteria. But could cancer be too steep of a price to pay for healthy teeth? Some people still have this fear.

Fortunately, the link between fluoride and cancer is still unproven. Research into this matter have found no conclusive evidence that fluoride increases the risks for cancer, kidney disease, or other conditions. The same cannot statement cannot be made about non-fluoride treated water.
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
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