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News / April 15, 2013

Extreme tea habit leads to fluoride overdose

by Guy Hiscott

A 47-year-old woman in the US has lost all her teeth after a fluoride overdose caused by habitually drinking too much tea.
She contracted skeletal fluorosis – fluoride deposits on the skeleton that can change bone structure – after drinking a pitcher of tea made from 100-150 tea bags every day for 17 years.
Tea naturally contains trace amounts of fluoride but the extreme concentration of the brew meant the patient was consuming more than 20mg a day. By comparison, the US Institute of Medicine sets out a daily intake of 4mg as ‘adequate’ and 10mg per day as being ‘tolerable’. The patient’s doctor, Sudhaker Rao described her tea intake as ‘astronomical’.
The level of fluoride in the patient’s blood at presentation was 0.43mg per litre, compared to a typical concentration of less than 0.10mg per litre.
The report was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.