Does fluoride cause cancer
There is much debate surrounding fluoride and fluoridation of public water supplies. So, is there any proof that fluoride causes cancer?

In its review published in 1987, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), part of the World Health Organization, noted that the studies “have shown no consistent tendency for people living in areas with high concentrations of fluoride in the water to have higher cancer rates than those living in areas with low concentrations.

In 1991, the US Public Health Service issued a report stating “Optimal fluoridation of drinking water does not pose a detectable cancer risk to humans as evidenced by extensive human epidemiological data available to date, including the new studies prepared for this report.

In the United Kingdom, the National Health Service (NHS) Centre for Reviews and Dissemination, University of York, published a systematic review of water fluoridation in the year 2000. After searching through the medical literature, they included 26 studies in their analysis, all of which were considered to be of “low” to “moderate” quality. They concluded, “Overall, no clear association between water fluoridation and incidence or mortality of bone cancers, thyroid cancer, or all cancers was found."

The general consensus among the reviews done to date is that there is no strong evidence of a link between water fluoridation and cancer.

A Harvard School of Public Health study, published in 2011, compared the fluoride levels in bones near tumors in people with osteosarcoma to the levels in people with other types of bone tumors. The researchers found no difference between the fluoride levels in the two groups.

Two more recent studies have compared the rates of osteosarcoma in areas with higher versus lower levels of fluoridation in Ireland and the United States. Neither study found an increased risk of osteosarcoma in areas of water fluoridation.

In 2007, Australian National Health and Medical Research (NHMRC) published a report after reviewing 5,418 studies individually. Of these, only 77 citations were deemed to be of good quality.  From these articles the NHMRC were able to recommend the continuation of fluoridating the water supply

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Last revised: Thursday, 2 October 2014

This article contains general information only and is not intended to replace advice from a qualified health professional.