A new study shows that "arthritis" alone costs the health system (i.e. taxpayer) $2 billion per year (1.2% GDP). And it will keep increasing unless something is done, according to the authors.
"But much 'arthritis' is actually misdiagnosed skeletal fluorosis, caused by over-exposure to fluoride - the toxin put in many of NZ's water supplies - according to the World Health Organisation. Doctors are not trained to diagnose this in NZ" advises Mark Atkin, Fluoride Action Network NZ's co-representative on the Fluoridation-free NZ Coalition.
The first sign of fluoride poisoning is dental fluorosis - an opacity in the teeth ranging from white to dark brown. It is caused by fluoride toxicity during childhood. It affects twice as many children in fluoridated communities according to two recent NZ studies - around 30%, instead of the 10% considered acceptable collateral damage when fluoridation was introduced.
The musculoskeletal study's authors point out that arthritis is considered a natural consequence of ageing, hence will increase as NZ's population ages. But skeletal fluorosis results from accumulated exposure to fluoride throughout life. Half of all fluoride swallowed accumulates in the bones.
"NZ has been fluoridated for 40 years now - about the time projected for developing first signs of skeletal fluorosis at the level of exposure in fluoridated communities (about 3 mg/day)" points out Mr Atkin, adding "while water fluoridation was introduced in the belief it would reduce tooth decay, we now know fluoride only works by applying it to the surface, such as with fluoride toothpaste. The latest large scale study in Australia (in 2004) showed no lasting benefit from fluoridation. Conversely, the health risks, come from swallowing it."
In 2006 the US National Research Council published its comprehensive report, identifying significant health risks from fluoride, especially to certain population groups. Risks began at the level of exposure in fluoridated communities.
"Class action law suits are currently being prepared in the USA and Australia, based on current scientific knowledge of fluoridation's harmful effects on health" advises Mr Atkin. "Meanwhile, like the band playing on the Titanic as it sank, the Ministry of Health keeps pushing its fluoridation agenda in the false belief it saves half a filling per person. Even if the Ministry were right, what would you choose - a filling, or years of suffering from arthritis?" he asks.
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