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Fluoride safe, insist city chiefs.

Byline: Ben Hurst

FEARS over fluoridated water have been denied by city health chiefs after a study of Birmingham residents suggested higher levels of thyroid conditions were leading to weight gain and depression.

Researchers investigated GP surgeries in the West Midlands which has the highest levels of water fluoridation in the country. The team from the Centre for Health Services Studies at the University of Kent found doctors in the region had recorded 30 per cent higher than expected rates of underactive thy-roid. But Birmingham health bosses insisted there were no risks, emphasising this was just 'one report' against extensive research over the years - and said the city's excellent teeth was a key benefit.

Researchers said GPs in the West Midlands were nearly twice as likely to report high hypothyroidism prevalence as Greater Manchester, where fluoride is not added to drinking water.

The report said: "The findings of the study raise particular concerns about the validity of community fluoridation as a safe public health measure."

Nationally, research suggested up to 15,000 people could be suffering needlessly from thyroid problems which can cause depression, weight gain and fatigue.

Lead author Professor Stephen Peckham, from the Centre for Health Service Studies, said: "I think it is concerning for people living in those areas. The difference between the West Midlands, which fluoridates, and Manchester, which doesn't, was particularly striking. There were nearly double the number of cases in Birmingham.

"Underactive thyroid is a particularly nasty thing to have and it can lead to other long-term health problems. I do think councils need to think again about putting fluoride in the water."

The thyroid gland, which is found in the neck, regulates the metabolism as well as many other systems in the body. The study, which is published online in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, said the effects of fluoride on the thyroid have long been observed, but there have been no population studies.

Birmingham director of public health, Dr Adrian Phillips, said the public should not be alarmed by this single report.

He said: "Extensive research over many years tells us that water fluoridation is a safe and effective public health measure and reports from Public Health England have found no association with reduced thyroid function.

"Birmingham's water supplies have been fluoridated for 50 years and consequently the dental health of our children is noticeably better than in non-fluoridated cities."

'"Extensive research over many years tells us that water fluoridation is a safe and effective public health measure DR ADRIAN PHILLIPS, PICTURED


A study linked |fluoride with higher levels of thyroid problems in the city

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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Feb 27, 2015
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