It’s not true – there is no evidence for it, but anti-fluoridation propagandists are promoting the myth that fluoride causes urinary stones. The story is already going around the usual “alternative” or “natural” health websites and anti-fluoridation blogs and Facebook pages. And, yes, most give an “authority” in the form of internet links.
This time around the myth appears to have been precipitated by publication of a scientific paper describing a new analytical technique:
Yusenkoa, E. V., Kapsarginb, F. P., & Nesterenko, P. N. (2014). Determination of fluoride ions in urinary stones by ion chromatography. Journal of Analytical Chemistry, 69(5), 474–479.
This is simply a report on a new analytical method. Interesting to chemists like me, and probably of future interest in the classification of urinary stones and similar material. But it does not contain anything about causes of urinary stones – because it didn’t study causes. Have a read.
Unfortunately Jon Evans added his own embellishments when he reported the technique in his SeperationsNOW article The dangers of fluoride toothpaste: Detecting fluoride anions in urinary stones.
Yusenko et al had simply demonstrated their technique on a sample of 20 stones reporting that fluoride was detected in 80% of them with an average concentration of 0.3 mg/g of stone. They speculated that the fluoride concentration could be related to dietary intake – commenting that:
“use of dentures and highly fluoridated tooth pastes also can affect the concentration of fluoride in the body.”
That was their sole reference to toothpaste. Don’t know about the dentures but consumption of fluoridated toothpaste can certainly lead to higher concentrations of fluoride in the body, in urine and consequently in calcified material including urinary stones. This is simply because fluoride has an affinity for calcium.
Kidney and urinary stones (and other calcified material in the body) are complex. Usually calcium oxalate and phosphate type compounds. As such the main promoters and inhibitors of their formation are calcium, phosphate, oxalate and a number of other organic compounds. Chemicals like fluoride have only a mild secondary effect (if any) inhibiting, or in some cases promoting, formation of stones according to the review of Fleisch (1980), Mechanisms of stone formation: role of promoters and inhibitors.
There is certainly no evidence to suggest fluoridated water or toothpaste enhances stone formation. So Jon Evans was irresponsible in spinning the story this way. To claim:
“ formation of these stones may have been promoted by high concentrations of fluorides in the patients’ urine, perhaps due to the patients ingesting lots of water containing added fluoride or even lots of fluoride toothpaste.”
This is just another case of dishonestly using scientific reports related to the affinity of fluoride for calcified material to claim that fluoride causes the calcification. I wrote about similar distortions regarding heart disease in Fluoride and heart disease – another myth and the claims of fluoride causing calcification of the pineal gland is another example.
Another thing - urinary stones are most common in countries with a dry, hot climate. Countries of Middle East, North Africa, the Mediterranean Regions and India. Some of these areas also have high fluoride dietary intake, both because of high concentration of fluoride in the groundwater and common consumption of high fluoride foods like tea. So there will be lots of reports in the scientific literature from these regions which include fluoride analyses of urinary stones.
So, just as with the way anti-fluoridationists continually link to scientific papers from these areas when making their erroneous claims about dental and skeletal fluorosis, and IQ, we can expect them to push similar papers in their future claims about urinary stones.