Woman loses all her teeth and develops rare bone disease after drinking too much TEA
The 47-year-old from Michigan drank a pitcher of tea made from 100 tea bags every day for 17 yearsShe had her teeth removed and got pain in her bonesAn X-ray showed areas of very dense bone in her backWas diagnosed with skeletal fluorosis – caused by consuming too much fluoride, found in tea and water
17:51 GMT, 21 March 2013
18:39 GMT, 21 March 2013
An American woman who drank 100 tea bag’s worth of tea a day has lost all her teeth and been diagnosed with a rare bone disease.
The 47-year-old from Michigan developed skeletal fluorosis – a bone disease caused by consuming too much fluoride – after drinking a pitcher of tea made from 100 tea bags every day for 17 years.
She visited a doctor at the Henry Ford Hospital in Detriot after developing pain and stiffness in her back, arms, legs and hips.
Her teeth also became so brittle they had to be removed.
The patient had areas of very dense bone in her back and calcifications in the ligaments of her arms
X-rays showed that she had areas of abnormally dense bone in some of her spinal vertebrae and calcifications in the ligaments of her arms.
The woman’s fluoride levels were tested and were found to be four times higher than is normal.
Skeletal fluorosis is very rare in the UK and U.S. but is endemic in parts of the world where there are naturally high levels of fluoride in the water – such as in parts of India and China.
Low levels of the mineral are added to drinking water in the UK and U.S. because, in small quantities, it strengthens teeth and prevents cavities.
However, fluoride is found in both tea and water meaning that the Detroit woman consumed more than is safe.
It is recommended that water does not contain more than 4mg of fluoride per litre but this patient had been consuming 20mg of fluoride a day.
The woman drank so much tea that she consumed unhealthy amounts of fluoride
Dr Sudhaker Rao, at the Henry Ford Hospital, told LiveScience that the woman was initially referred to him because it was suspected that she had cancer because it looks similar on an X-ray.
However, he was able to recognise her condition as skeletal fluorosis because he had come across it in his native India.
He went on to explain that excess fluoride is usually removed by the kidneys but that if someone consumes too much of it then the mineral forms deposits on the bones.
He added that other cases of the condition have been seen in U.S. tea drinkers but most of the patients were drinking at least a gallon of tea a day.
The Detroit woman was told to cut down her tea intake – and she did see an improvement in her symptoms.
Over time she is expected to make a full recovery as the fluoride deposits will slowly disappear as her bones repair themselves.