Fluoride Linked to Bone Cancer, Again

Fluoride is added to 2/3 of U.S. public water supplies; but is not essential for water purification or dental health.

ArriveNet | June 28, 2005

Newly available research, out of Harvard University, links fluoride in tap water, at levels most Americans drink, to osteosarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer (1).

The Environmental Working Group (EWG), a highly-regarded Washington DC-based organization, urges that fluoride in tap water be declared a known or probable cancer cause (2), based on this and previous animal and human studies.

Elise Bassin, PhD writes, in her April 2001 Harvard doctoral thesis, “…for males less than twenty years old, fluoride level in drinking water [about 1 part per million] during growth is associated with an increased risk of osteosarcoma.”

Further, EWG charges that Bassin’s lead advisor, Chester W. Douglass, DMD, PhD signed off on her research; but told federal health officials there is no cancer link to fluoride, according to the Boston Herald (2a).

Douglass is also editor-in-chief of the Colgate Oral Care Report, a newsletter that goes to dentists and is supported by toothpaste manufacturer Colgate Palmolive.

“It appears Douglass violated federal research rules, according to the group’s complaint, which they plan to file with the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences,” writes the Boston Herald.

According to EWG, “Research dating back decades, much of it government funded, has long suggested that fluoride added to drinking water presents a unique cancer risk to the growing bones of young boys.” (3)

Citing a strong body of peer-reviewed evidence, including the Bassin study, EWG urges an expedited review of fluoride for inclusion in a U.S. government report of substances known or feared to be cancer-causing in humans. (2)

Richard Wiles, EWG’s Sr. Vice President, told the British newspaper The Observer, “I've spent 20 years in public health trying to protect kids from toxic exposure. Even with DDT, you don't have the consistently strong data that the compound can cause cancer as you now have with fluoride.” (4)

High-quality epidemiological studies show a strong association between fluoride in tap water and osteosarcoma in boys, reports EWG.

EWG’s Wiles writes, “The safety of fluoride in America’s tap water is a pressing health concern….the weight of the evidence strongly supports the conclusion that millions of boys in these [fluoridated] communities are at significantly increased risk of developing bone cancer as a result.”

“The Harvard dissertation…obviously had merit because Bassin was awarded her doctorate,” writes The Observer.

Fluoride is added to water supplies in a questionable attempt to reduce tooth decay. Pro-fluoridation studies are outdated and flawed as revealed in British (5) and U.S. reviews of the literature (6).

Because osteosarcoma usually develop from osteoblasts (the cells that manufacture growing bone), it most commonly develops in teenagers who are experiencing their adolescent growth spurt. Boys are twice as likely to have osteosarcoma as girls, and most cases of osteosarcoma involve the bones around the knee. (7)


(1) “Association Between Fluoride in Drinking Water During Growth and Development and the Incidence of Osteosarcoma for Children and Adolescents,” A Thesis Presented by Elise Beth Bassin, April 2001 http://www.fluoridealert.org/health/cancer/bassin-2001.pdf

(2)June 6, 2005 letter from Richard Wiles, Sr. Vice President, Environmental Working Group to Dr. C. W. Jameson, National Toxicology Program, Report on Carcinogens http://www.ewg.org/issues/fluoride/20050606/petition.php

(2a) “Claim: Doctor fudged fluoride findings,”By Jessica Heslam,, June 28, 2005 

(3) Environmental Working Group News Release “Government Asked to Evaluate the Cancer Causing Potential of Fluoride in Tap Water,” June 6, 2005 http://www.ewg.org/issues/fluoride/20050606/index.php

(4) “Fluoride water ‘causes cancer’,” by Bob Woffinden, June 12, 2005, The Observer http://observer.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,6903,1504672,00.html 

(5) The University of York, Centre for Review and Dissemination “What the 'York Review' on the fluoridation of drinking water really found,” Originally released: 28 October 2003 http://www.york.ac.uk/inst/crd/fluoridnew.htm

(6) National Institutes of Health, News Release concerning Consensus statement regarding Diagnosis and Management of Dental Caries Throughout Life, March 26-28, 2001,Vol. 18, No. 1 http://consensus.nih.gov/news/releases/115_release.htm

("... the (NIH) panel was disappointed in the overall quality of the clinical data that it reviewed. According to the panel, far too many studies were small, poorly described, or otherwise methodologically flawed" (over 560 studies evaluated fluoride use).)

(7) http://kidshealth.org/parent/medical/cancer/cancer_osteosarcoma.html