Fluoridation In Australia – 14 June 2013
Dr. Michael Foley
Claim: “Fluorides are natural minerals commonly found in the environment, including almost all water supplies.”
Response: “Natural does not necessarily mean good. Arsenic, like fluoride, leaches naturally from rocks into groundwater, but no one suggests topping that up. Besides, there is nothing “natural” about the fluoridating chemicals, as they are obtained largely from the wet scrubbers of the phosphate fertilizer industry. The chemicals used in most fluoridation programs are either hexafluorosilicic acid or its sodium salt, and those silicon fluorides do not occur in nature” (Connett, Beck & Micklem 2010, pp. 246-247). Additionally, it is important to note that “Fluoride as a drug has contaminated most processed foods and beverages” (Limeback 2000); and that “The major sources of internal exposure of individuals to fluorides are the diet (food, water, beverages) and fluoride-containing dental products (toothpaste, fluoride supplements). Internal exposure to fluorides also can occur from inhalation (cigarette smoke, industrial emissions), dermal absorption (from chemicals or pharmaceuticals), ingestion or parenteral administration of fluoride-containing drugs, and ingestion of fluoride-containing soil” (NRC 2006, p. 23).
Claim: “In the early 20th Century, American researchers realised people living in areas with naturally higher levels of fluoride in their drinking water had much less tooth decay.”
Claim: “This led to trials where the natural levels of fluoride in drinking water were topped up to optimal levels. Levels of tooth decay dropped dramatically, and the practice of water fluoridation quickly spread around the USA, and then to other countries.”
Response: “The studies that launched fluoridation were methodologically flawed. The early trials conducted between 1945 and 1955 in North America that helped to launch fluoridation, have been heavily criticized for their poor methodology and poor choice of control communities (De Stefano 1954; Sutton 1959, 1960, 1996; Ziegelbecker 1970). According to Dr. Hubert Arnold, a statistician from the University of California at Davis, the early fluoridation trials “are especially rich in fallacies, improper design, invalid use of statistical methods, omissions of contrary data, and just plain muddleheadedness and hebetude.” Serious questions have also been raised about Trendley Dean’s (the father of fluoridation) famous 21-city study from 1942 (Ziegelbecker 1981)” (50 Reasons #18; see also: Burgstahler ibid.). How many countries actually fluoridate their water? Learn more here.
Claim: “Fluoride is absorbed into tooth enamel, and strengthens enamel against those acid attacks.”
Response: The above claim is false and outdated.
Claim: “Only in Queensland was responsibility given to local councils, and this resulted in a very poor uptake of fluoridation. Australian Child Dental Health Surveys, which have been conducted since the late 1980s, consistently show Queensland children suffering more tooth decay than children in other States.”
Response: A response to this claim can be found here.
Claim: “Some people are opposed to water fluoridation, just as some people are opposed to vaccination, but arguments against water fluoridation are based on ignorance and the fear factor… The claims of those who oppose fluoridation are often based on outdated information, questionable research and selectively picking studies that support their case.”
Response: The scientific opponents of fluoridation are well-acquainted and up-to-date with the scientific literature. In his review of Connett, Beck & Micklem’s 2010 book, Dr. CV Howard writes, “the authors have produced a well-researched, cogently argued, and very readable text that summarises historical, political, ethical, toxicological, and epidemiological scientific data behind drinking water fluoridation… The text is approachable by non-scientists and specialists, although an extensive technical bibliography is provided for those who wish to delve deeper,” whilst Dr. Arvid Carlsson describes the book as “excellent.”
Claim: “The Australian Medical Association, Australian Dental Association, and every major Australian health authority strongly endorse the fluoridation of drinking water supplies to reduce tooth decay.”
Response: “Many of those promoting fluoridation rely heavily on a list of endorsements. However, the U.S. PHS first endorsed fluoridation in 1950, before one single trial had been completed and before any significant health studies had been published (see chapters 9 and 10 in The Case Against Fluoride for the significance of this PHS endorsement for the future promotion of fluoridation). Many other endorsements swiftly followed with little evidence of any scientific rationale for doing so. The continued use of these endorsements has more to do with political science than medical science” (50 Reasons #46).
Claim: “After the introduction of water fluoridation and then fluoride toothpaste, levels of tooth decay in Australian children dropped dramatically.”
Response: In 1986, Dr. Mark Diesendorf published a paper in Nature that said, “Large temporal reductions in tooth decay, which cannot be attributed to fluoridation, have been observed in both unfluoridated and fluoridated areas of at least eight developed countries over the past thirty years. It is now time for a scientific re-examination of the alleged enormous benefits of fluoridation” (see: discussion @ 3.2.4). In 2000, a research team from the University of York examined the evidence for fluoridation and concluded, “We were unable to discover any reliable good-quality evidence in the fluoridation literature world-wide.” In 2007, Cheng et al. said, “Although the prevalence of caries varies between countries, levels everywhere have fallen greatly in the past three decades, and national rates of caries are now universally low. This trend has occurred regardless of the concentration of fluoride in water or the use of fluoridated salt.” In 2012, Professor Niyi Awofeso stated in Public Health Ethics, “It would appear that the effectiveness of artificial water fluoridation in the 21st century is at best questionable.”
Claim: “Prevention is far better than a cure.”
Claim: “Water fluoridation is a proven, safe and effective public-health measure.”
Response: As we have already seen (above), the claim for effectiveness is exaggerated – based on poor evidence and erroneous assumptions – but more importantly, numerous health issues have not been resolved. We invite readers to examine all the recommendations of the 2006 NRC Report, and to fully explore the FAN Health Effects Database. For more detailed reading, refer to The Case Against Fluoride (PART FOUR: The Evidence of Harm & PART FIVE: Margin of Safety and the Precautionary Principle). You may also find our Basics page useful for supplementary reading and viewing.