doi:10.1038/nindia.2013.174 Published online 26 December 2013
Researchers have found that drinking fluoride-contaminated water can cause chronic abdominal pain in patients . They suggest that switching to safe potable water with low fluoride levels can help prevent such abdominal pain.
Fluorosis ranks high among the major environmental health problems in India. Ingestion of excess fluoride through drinking water can cause fluorosis, which affects teeth and bones. Furthermore, fluoride contamination can lead to non-ulcer dyspepsia and chronic abdominal pain. However, no previous studies had comprehensively linked chronic abdominal pain to fluorosis in Indian people.
To find evidence for a link between chronic abdominal pain and fluorosis, the researchers studied 50 patients exposed to fluoride-contaminated drinking water. They measured the fluoride levels of these patients' serum and urine and of their drinking water.
Analysis revealed a significant correlation between chronic abdominal pain and elevated serum fluoride levels. Seventy-three per cent of the patients examined for urinary fluoride concentrations had higher values than normal, whereas 27 per cent patients had normal urinary fluoride concentrations despite having raised serum fluoride concentrations.
The study found that the symptoms disappeared when patients switched to drinking water with low fluoride levels and simultaneously adopted appropriate dietary changes. The results imply that chronic fluoride ingestion from drinking water and other sources can be the cause of chronic abdominal pain, and should be evaluated in patients whose other parameters are normal.