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Fluoridation level linked to fractures.

Physicians often prescribe fluoride and calcium to help restore some of the bone mass lost in osteoporosis. Some researchers suspect, however, that the new bone growth may be abnormally brittle (SN: 1/21/89, p. 36). Now, epidemiologists add weight to that concern with a report that women over 55 who drink highly fluoridated water are more prone to fractures.

In 1983 and 1984, MaryFran R. Sowers of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and her colleagues measured the bone density of more than 800 women, aged 20 to 80, in three Iowa communities with different levels of calcium and fluoride in their water supplies. Five years later, the researchers again measured bone density in most of the women and counted the number of bone fractures suffered since the initial tests.

One community, serving as a basis for comparison, had moderate fluoride and calcium levels in its drinking water. Another had EPA's maximum allowable fluoride level of 4 parts per million -- four times that in the comparison community. The third community's water contained more than five times as much calcium as that of the comparison community.

Calcium made no difference in fracture risk, the team reports in the April 1 AMERICAN JOURNAL OF EPIDEMIOLOGY -- but postmenopausal women drinking the higher-fluoride water faced more than double the fracture risk of their counterparts in the comparison community.

Physicians treating osteoporosis should be aware of a possible "margin of safety" beyond which fluoride therapy may become counterproductive, says Sowers.
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Title Annotation:women over 55 who drink highly fluoridated water are more prone to fractures
Publication:Science News
Date:May 25, 1991
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