No conclusive links between fluoride in community water and negative effects on key areas of health

HRB Evidence Centre

The problem:

Since 1964, Ireland has added fluoride to community water supplies to improve dental health. Part of the ongoing public health commitment is to keep up with the international evidence about fluoride in community water supplies and health more generally.

 

The project:

The Department of Health asked the HRB to carry out a review of published studies on connections between fluoride and health beyond the impact on teeth.

 

The outcomes:

  • The HRB Evidence Centre analysed 30 studies from nine countries, including Ireland, carried out between 1990 and 2021.
  • The analysis found no conclusive evidence of links between fluoride being added to community water and bone health, cancer, kidney stones, infant abnormalities, and death rates.  
  • The evidence pointed to the need to focus on neuropsychology (such as ability to learn) and endocrine (hormone-related) conditions in future reviews, as further high-quality studies are needed.
  • The report was published and made publicly available online.

Dr Kathryn Lambe, Research Officer at the HRB Evidence Centre, says:

“Fluoride has been added to community water schemes in Ireland for many decades. In our latest review of the evidence up to 2021, we can see that many of the studies are not of high quality, but overall the findings do not show any conclusive links between fluoride in the water and health issues. Globally, however, the quality of studies needs to improve, so that we know we are working from a solid evidence base.”

No conclusive links between fluoride in community water and negative effects on key areas of health is part of a wider selection of success stories across four themes from this year's annual Health Research in Action.

Download the full Health Research in Action publication (549 kB).

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