October 2/Healthcare Finance, Tax & Law Weekly -- Fluoridation puts tea drinkers at risk of damaged bones, discolored teeth and soft tissue harm, studies show.

Tea has naturally high fluoride levels. Excess fluoride can weaken bones and discolor children's un-erupted teeth.

Four cups, of 20 teas sampled, delivered 0.8-1.8mg of fluoride, reports Cao et al. in Food Chemistry.

"Among populations habitually consuming black tea, water fluoridation is not only unnecessary but also possibly harmful...The target organs of chronic fluoride intoxication are not only the teeth and skeleton, but also the liver, kidney, nervous and reproductive systems," they write.

A March 2008 Food and Chemical Toxicology study found up to 4.5, 1.8, and 0.5mg/L fluoride in black, green and white teas, respectively, when brewed for five minutes (61 teas sampled).

Brewed teas could contain up to 6mg/L fluoride depending on the amount of dry tea used, the water fluoride concentration and the brewing time, according to the American Dental Association (ADA).

According to 1997 ADA data, 3mg and 4mg daily is adequate for women and men, respectively, to prevent fluoride's adverse effects. It is much lower for children. In 2006, the National Research Council reported the basis for those levels should be reduced.

Case Reports by Cao and Yi in the Journal of Fluorine Chemistry (February 2008) "Fluoride and Tea:"
-- A 57-year-old Englishman's misdiagnosed Paget's disease (weakened bones) with osteoarthritis was finally correctly diagnosed as skeletal fluorosis caused by his long-term heavy tea-drinking habit.
-- A Pakistani woman's dental fluorosis resulted solely from tea which she consumed from age two.
-- A 36-year-old Chinese woman's 10 years of joint pain disappeared when she stopped drinking tea.
-- French doctors identified five patients who developed bone softening (osteomalacia) from drinking tea.
-- An American woman's fluoride-caused debilitating joint pains disappeared when her two-gallon-a-day iced-tea habit stopped.

"By 2020, one in two Americans over age 50 will be at risk for fractures from osteoporosis or low bone mass," according to the surgeon general.

"It's clear that fluoridation is increasing Americans' bone damage. Presidential candidates must pledge to stop water fluoridation if they truly care about individuals and not fluoridation-supporting special interest groups such as the American Dental Association," says attorney Paul Beeber, president, New York State Coalition Opposed to Fluoridation.

From the October 13, 2008, Prepared Foods e-Flash