Take a look at the World Health Organization’s statistics on leading causes of death worldwide. It will tell you that the more advanced a country is, the greater your chances of dying of cancer.
Advancements in medicine and healthcare have brought down infectious diseases which used to be the mass killers of past. But various types of cancers have filled in the slots. Lung and respiratory tract cancers are now the second biggest killer in the United States right after heart disease.
Take the case of fluoride. This substance in toothpaste is supposed to reduce cavities, but people who have high amounts of fluoride in their drinking water have been known to develop fluorosis, a degenerative condition affecting teeth and bones.
Fluoride’s possible link to a type of bone cancer called osteosarcoma is occasionally brought into media attention, only to be shot down with the justification that conclusive evidence is lacking. Fluoride is added to drinking water supplies in several parts of the US despite an outcry against it, and fluoride toothpastes continue to be recommended.
Another cancer-causing agent in toothpaste is triclosan, an antibiotic substance added to ensure dental hygiene. On reacting with chlorinated water, it forms chloroform, which is a known hepatotoxin.
Although triclosan exposure for over six months is known to cause hepatic tumors in rodents, whether this compound directly causes liver tumors or just aids their development is still under speculation. However, it is a relief that many toothpaste companies, including Colgate, are reformulating their products excluding triclosan.