(TMU) — Fluoride exposure may be associated with changes in the pineal gland which affect sleep cycle regulation among older adolescents, according to new research from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Another study published in the journal Environment International found that exposing infants to increasing levels of fluoride in tap water may result in diminished non-verbal intellectual abilities, with a stronger effect found among formula-fed children.
These two studies are only the latest research produced in recent years which call into question the safety of water fluoridation.
The Mount Sinai team examined data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey looking for adolescents who had measurable amounts of fluoride in their water and plasma. The researchers were investigating the relationships between fluoride exposure and self-reported sleep patterns. The researchers state that their study is the first to explore the connection between fluoride and sleep patterns in humans or animals. A sample of adolescents at an average age of 17 who live in the United States was used for the study due to the nation’s water fluoridation program.
While fluoride has been regarded as a major public health achievement, the toxin accumulates in the pineal gland where melatonin is produced, according to the researchers. Melatonin is the hormone responsible for regulating the sleep-wake cycle.
“The high accumulation of fluoride in pineal gland hydroxyapatite (among those chronically exposed) points to a plausible mechanism by which fluoride may influence sleep patterns. In adults, pineal gland fluoride concentrations have been shown to strongly correlate with degree of pineal gland calcification,” explained the authors. “Interestingly, greater degree of pineal calcification among older adolescents and/or adults is associated with decreased melatonin production, lower REM sleep percentage, decreased total sleep time, poorer sleep efficiency, greater sleep disturbances and greater daytime tiredness.”
The study also found that water fluoride concentrations were associated with higher odds of reports of snorting, gasping, or stopping breathing while sleeping at night. The higher water fluoride concentrations may be associated with frequent daytime sleepiness as well as an association with a later bedtime by 24 minutes and a later morning wake time by 26 minutes.
“Our findings also showed that fluoride exposure may be associated with shifts in the sleep-wake cycle, as higher water fluoride concentrations were associated with later weekday bedtime and wake time, but not sleep duration,” the researchers explain in Environmental Health. The researchers caution that additional studies must to be conducted “in order to investigate the effects of fluoride on sleep patterns and to identify windows of vulnerability for potential effects.”
Meanwhile, another team of researchers published the study “Fluoride exposure from infant formula and child IQ in a Canadian birth cohort,” examining the association between fluoride exposure in infancy and intellectual ability in children who lived in fluoridated or non-fluoridated cities in Canada. The researchers note that infants who consume formula reconstituted with fluoridated water are likely to have an excessive fluoride intake while breastfed infants tend to receive a very low intake of fluoride.
The team compared IQ scores in 398 children who were formula-fed versus those who were breastfed during infancy. They found that “IQ scores were lower with higher levels of fluoride in tap water“ and the effects were “more pronounced among formula-fed children, especially for nonverbal skills.” In an earlier version of the study the researchers concluded, “These findings indicate the possible need to reduce fluoride intake during pregnancy.”
This study is not the first to identify an association between exposure to fluoride and lower IQ in children.
In 2012, researchers from Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and China Medical University in Shenyang published a meta-analysis in Environmental Health Perspectives which found strong indications that fluoride may adversely affect cognitive development in children. The authors warned that this risk should not be ignored and that more research on fluoride’s impact on the developing brain is necessary.
The Mind Unleashed will continue to monitor future findings on the health impacts of fluoride.
Background: What is Fluoride?
The substances added to municipal water supplies known by the name fluoride are actually a combination of unpurified byproducts of phosphate mining, namely hydrofluorosilicic acid, sodium fluorosilicate, and sodium fluoride. In the United States, thousands of tons of fluorosilicic acid is recovered from phosphoric acid plants and then used for water fluoridation. During this process the fluoride ion is created.
This process of taking waste from the phosphate industry and putting it into drinking water has long been criticized for its effects on human health and that of the environment. It is well known that water fluoridation has led to dental fluorosis for millions of children. This discoloring of the teeth was called “cosmetically objectionable” by the Centers for Disease Control. But beyond the cosmetic effect there have been a number of studies indicating health issues ranging from arthritis, brain problems, reduced thyroid or overactive thyroid, kidney problems, and bone cancers.
While proponents of water fluoridation have long pointed to an apparent drop in tooth decay in fluoridated nations as proof of its validity, those claims have been proven wrong by the World Health Organization (WHO). While the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has stated the fluoride in the water is directly related to better teeth quality, the WHO released its own study showing that tooth decay rates have dropped in all western nations, whether water is fluoridated or not.
The reasons for opposing water fluoridation include: fear of a variety of health concerns; the belief that it is forcibly medicating the population without their approval; financial waste; and environmental concerns related to phosphate mines where the chemical is found.
Editor’s note: We may not all be scientists here at the Mind Unleashed but we are dedicated journalists willing to dig deep so you don’t have to, even on the most controversial of topics. Unfortunately there is significant controversy when it comes to the fluoridation of water despite the fact that numerous studies on the topic exist. We are committed to publishing content that is backed up by scientific evidence but we do not purport to be scientists ourselves. We are likewise committed to reporting on the topics that our audience is most interested in, including the use of fluoride. If you want to learn more about water fluoridation and the effects mentioned above please click on the scientific studies and articles linked within this article.
Pollution Is Making Human Penises Shrink and Causing a Collapse of Fertility, Scientists Say
With many still scoffing at the idea of rampant pollution posing a threat to humanity, a new study could drastically change the conversation: the chemicals across our environment could be the cause of shrinking human penises.
According to a new book by Dr. Shanna H. Swan, conditions in the modern world are quickly altering the reproductive development of humans and posing a threat to our future as a species.
The argument is laid out in her new book Count Down: How Our Modern World Is Threatening Sperm Counts, Altering Male and Female Reproductive Development, and Imperiling the Future of the Human Race.
The book discusses how pollution is not only leading to skyrocketing erectile dysfunction rates and fertility decline, but also an expansion in the number of babies born with small penises.
While it may seem like good fodder for jokes, the research could portend a grim future for humanity’s ability to survive.
Swan co-authored a study in 2017 that found sperm counts had precipitously fallen in Western countries by 59 percent between 1973 and 2011. In her latest book, Swan blames chemicals for this crisis in the making.
“Chemicals in our environment and unhealthy lifestyle practices in our modern world are disrupting our hormonal balance, causing various degrees of reproductive havoc,” she wrote in the new book.
“In some parts of the world, the average twentysomething woman today is less fertile than her grandmother was at 35,” she also wrote, noting that men could have only half the sperm count of their grandfathers.
Swan blames the disruption on phthalates, the chemicals used in plastic manufacturing that also have an impact on how the crucial hormone endocrine is produced
However, experts note that the proper implementation of pollution reduction measures could help humanity prevent the collapse of human fertility.
Visualizing The World’s Deadliest Pandemics By Population Impact
Humanity has been battling against disease for centuries.
And while most contagious outbreaks have never reached full-blown pandemic status, Visual Capitalist’s Carmen Ang notes that there have been several times throughout history when a disease has caused mass devastation.
Here’s a look at the world’s deadliest pandemics to date, viewed from the lens of the impact they had on the global population at the time.
Editor’s note: The above graphic was created in response to a popular request from users after viewing our popular history of pandemics infographic initially released a year ago.
Death Toll, by Percent of Population
In the mid-1300s, a plague known as the Black Death claimed the lives of roughly 200 million people – more than 50% of the global population at that time.
Here’s how the death toll by population stacks up for other significant pandemics, including COVID-19 so far.
The specific cause of the Black Death is still up for debate. Many experts claim the 14th-century pandemic was caused by a bubonic plague, meaning there was no human-to-human transmission, while others argue it was possibly pneumonic.
Interestingly, the plague still exists today – however, it’s significantly less deadly, thanks to modern antibiotics.
History Repeats, But at Least We Keep Learning
While we clearly haven’t eradicated infection diseases from our lives entirely, we’ve at least come a long way in our understanding of what causes illness in the first place.
In ancient times, people believed gods and spirits caused diseases and widespread destruction. But by the 19th century, a scientist named Louis Pasteur (based on findings by Robert Koch) discovered germ theory – the idea that small organisms caused disease.
What will we discover next, and how will it impact our response to disease in the future?
Like this? Check out the full-length article The History of Pandemics
Republished from ZH with permission.
California Bill Backed by PTSD War Veterans Groups Would Legalize Psychedelics Statewide
California could soon decriminalize psychedelics statewide if one legislator’s new bill is passed, marking another step by the Golden State to do away with laws seen by critics as antiquated vestiges of the failed U.S. war on drugs.
On Thursday, Senator Scott Wiener of San Francisco introduced Bill 519, which would comprehensively decriminalize the use of and possession of psychedelics, following the lead of such places as Oakland, Santa Cruz, the District of Columbia, and Oregon, which have all decriminalized the drugs to varying degrees.
Under the proposed law, a range of psychedelic drugs including psilocybin – the hallucinogen in “magic” mushrooms – psilocyn, 3,4-MDMA (also known as molly or ecstasy), LSD, ketamine, DMT, ibogaine, and mescaline would all be decriminalized. Like a previous law passed in 2018 that expunged cannabis-related convictions from the records of Californians, Bill 519 would also wipe clean prior convictions for the use or possession of drugs.
While the comprehensive decriminalization measure would open the door to any sort of use of the drugs, not limited to medical, it would also be tied to measures that endorse the medicinal and therapeutic benefits of psychedelics which have gained increased recognition from health experts and researchers in recent years.
“Given the severity of our mental health crisis, we shouldn’t be criminalizing people for using drugs that have shown significant promise in treating mental health conditions,” Wiener said in a statement. “People should be able to seek alternative treatment for diseases like anxiety, depression, and PTSD, and we need to make science-based treatments available to those in need.”
The bill has also been heavily supported by two groups, the Heroic Hearts Project and VETS (Vets Exploring Treatment Solutions), both nonprofit organizations that assist veterans in addressing mental health challenges stemming from trauma, such as PTSD.
The strategy tout the medical benefits of the drugs is one that has been used with success in past efforts by drug policy reform advocates.
“That’s how it worked with cannabis,” Oregonian drug policy reform advocate Anthony Johnson told the Guardian. Johnson helped lead efforts in his state to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of basically all illicit drugs through Measure 110, which voters overwhelmingly approved in November.
“It’s definitely a way to help people that need it first and foremost, but also then to educate the public about these substances of how the drug war has been a failed policy and how there is a better approach,” Johnson added.
In the case of Oregon’s Measure 109, which cleared the way for the all-out legalization of psilocybin mushrooms, petitioners highlighted the need to end the prohibition of the substance as a means toward treating mental health challenges through alternative methods.
“Healthcare professionals, veterans, mothers, people struggling with depression, anxiety, addiction and end of life distress, community organizations, and so many others answered to call for a new option to help so many who are suffering,” a coalition of Oregon advocates said in a statement last November following voters’ overwhelming approval of the legal psilocybin therapy bill.
As has been the case in other states, however, the largest obstacle to decriminalization has been law enforcement, who cite concerns over public safety, and the private prison industry which enjoys generous profits from state contracts to incarcerate drug users. However, state Senator Wiener hopes that the testimony of veterans will help convince opponents of the need to shed their preconceptions and biases toward users of psychedelic drugs.
“There’s a stereotype of who’s using psychedelics, but it’s much broader than that and when you have veterans coming into the Capitol talking about how psychedelics help them with PTSD and help them get their lives back, that’s incredibly powerful for legislators,” Wiener explained.
Among those veterans is 38-year-old veteran Juliana Mercer, who spent 16 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, including 10 years of active duty service over the course of one tour in Iraq and one in Afghanistan.
As a four-year member of the wounded warriors unit, Mercer saw unspeakable horrors that left an indelible impression on her psyche – ultimately resulting in long-term trauma that she was largely unable to address.
“I lost quite a few friends and just saw a lot of a lot of damage and destruction along the way,” Mercer said. “I put all of that stuff away and kind of forgot about it for a while, and once I slowed down it was all just sitting there and I didn’t know what to do with it.”
While her first experience with psychedelics was recreational, she eventually gained a sense of connectedness that had been absent for years. She eventually reached out to the Heroic Hearts Project a year and a half ago to undergo ayahuasca therapy, which she said had completely exceeded expectations in allowing her to release “years of grief.”
“I kept hearing that when you do some of these plant medicines, you’ll be able to do 10 years worth of work in one session,” Mercer explained. “Just one of my sessions really brought out all of that pain and the grief that I didn’t even know was in there and allowed me to just completely release it and expel it, things that I had no idea were there.”
For licensed clinical social worker Lauren Taus, therapies involving plants such as ayahuasca and psilocybin are simply strong tools rather than cure-alls for mental health challenges. However, with the ongoing pandemic compounding a mental health crisis that has long been felt across the United States, Taus is adamant that such potent tools must be decriminalized.
“The causes of trauma are multiplying way faster than the solutions,” Taus said. “Current treatment is generally not very effective.”
“Psychedelic medicine has been engaged with globally for eons,” she added. “This stuff works and we deserve to have access to solutions that will be sustainable.”
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