Three systematic reviews published since 2000 have analysed studies looking to see whether there have been any adverse effects for general health from drinking intentionally fluoridated water. None of the reviews identified such effects, although they identified a need for more research in some areas.
University of York (2000)
The York reviewers concluded that there was no association between optimally fluoridated water and higher rates of bone fractures or higher rates of cancer. Whilst finding no evidence of other harmful effects, they indicated a need for more research in some areas.
Australian NHMRC (2007)
The Australian NHMRC review, which also looked at studies published since the York report, concurred broadly with its findings.
Irish Health Research Board (2015)
The Irish Health Research Board review found no strong evidence of any association between community water fluoridation and negative health effects.
Australian NHMRC (2016)
This definitive update of the 2007 review found no association between water fluoridation and cancer, Down Syndrom, IQ, mortality, and muscle and skeletal effects.
One in a Million
Our One in a Million online database includes a comprehensive section on water fluoridation and general health.
Public Health England report
A Public Health England analysis (2014) found no evidence of harm from consumption of fluoridated water after an analysis which compared a range of health indicators in fluoridated and non-fluoridated areas of England.
New Zealand Royal Society report
A report by the Royal Society of New Zealand and the Office of the New Zealand Government’s Chief Science Adviser (2014) looked at the scientific evidence from New Zealand and around the world on a range of non-dental health conditions, including osteosarcoma and neurodevelopment (two issues that have been frequently raised by opponents of fluoridation over recent years). No evidence of harm was found.
Report of the EU Commission’s Scientific Committee on Health and Environmental Risks (SCHER)
A 2011 report of the EU Commission's Scientific Committee on Health and Environmental Risks (SCHER) concluded that fluoride intake from drinking water at the level occurring in the EU does not appear to hamper children's neurodevelopment and IQ levels; human studies do not suggest adverse thyroid effects at realistic human exposures to fluoride; and there is no new evidence from human studies to indicate that fluoride in drinking water influences male and female reproductive capacity.
Studies of interest
New Zealand study indicating absence of effects on IQ (2014)
A research paper on water fluoridation and IQ in New Zealand was published in 2014 which, unlike earlier studies reported mainly from rural areas of China, relates specifically to a comparison of the IQs of people living in areas with and without community water fluoridation schemes. The research team from the University of Otago found no significant differences in IQ between people in fluoridated and non-fluoridated areas.
UK study finds no difference in osteosarcoma rates (2014)
A research team from the Universities of Newcastle upon Tyne, Leeds and Oxford analysed osteosarcoma and Ewing sarcoma cases in people aged up to 50 that occurred across the whole of the UK between 1980 and 2005. Their report, published in 2014, found no statistically significant difference in the rates of incidence between fluoridated and non-fluoridated areas.
US study finds no association between osteosarcoma and fluoride levels in bone (2011)
A US study, published in 2011, compared the fluoride content of segments of bone taken from patients with osteosarcoma with the fluoride content of segments from other patients with types of tumours that had never previously been linked in the scientific literature with exposure to fluoride. The study found no association between the disease and fluoride levels in bone.