Rebuttal, Dr. Andrew Wong, 4BC

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We dealt with Dr. Wong last year, via a rough draft rebuttal. Below, we offer a more concise, updated version (we also recommend this later interview on 4BC, featuring Dr. Paul Connett).

Response to Dr. Wong’s claims

Dr. Andrew Wong radio interview – 4BC Mornings with Greg Cary, QLD
11 December, 2012

Claim: “The overwhelming body of scientific evidence shows that water fluoridation is a safe and effective means of reducing dental decay, particularly amongst children.”

Response: In terms of effectiveness, the evidence is weak, and of poor quality. In terms of safety, many health issues have not been settled. Also see: Connett, Beck & Micklem 2010 (p. 251).

Claim: “Water fluoridation is supported by organisations such as the World Health Organisation, the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia, the Australian Medical Association, and the Australian Dental Association.”

Response: Endorsements do not represent scientific evidence (see: 50 Reasons #46).

Claim: “Water fluoridation has beneficial effects, both topically and systemically.”

Response: The systemic theory is outdated; therefore, as Dr. Arvid Carlsson puts it, water fluoridation is “obsolete.”

Claim: “Water fluoridation has a universal benefit to the community.”

Response: According to Cheng et al 2007, in relation to water fluoridation, “an uncontrollable dose of fluoride [is] given for up to a lifetime, regardless of the risk of caries, and many people [do] not benefit.”

Claim: “Even with good oral hygiene habits, water fluoridation is still necessary, since water fluoridation acts in combination with fluoridated toothpaste to further reduce dental decay amongst adults and children.”

Response: If artificial water fluoridation were “necessary” and “essential,” then Europeans, for example, would not have as good or better teeth than those in fluoridating nations. As noted by Dr. Arvid Carlsson, “Sweden rejected fluoridation in the 1970s… our children have not suffered greater tooth decay… and in turn our citizens have not borne the other hazards fluoride may cause. In any case, since fluoride is readily available in toothpaste, you don’t have to force it on people.” In fact, many of the famous cities of the world do not force water fluoridation upon their people, and they’re getting along just fine. 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: “At the appropriate level of 0.9 ppm, it has been scientifically shown by a vast number of scientific studies that water fluoridation is safe and effective.”

Response: “Water fluoridation at 0.7 mg/L is not adequate to protect against known or anticipated adverse effects and does not allow an adequate margin of safety to protect young children, people with high water consumption, people with kidney disease (resulting in reduced excretion of fluoride), and other potentially sensitive population subgroups” (Thiessen 2011, p. 5). With water fluoridation, dose cannot be controlled; measures of exposure vary widely from all sources, including for high intake population subgroups; and therefore an adequate margin of safety cannot be established. It should be noted that inadequate biomonitoring has been highlighted by the National Research Council.

Claim: “The NHMRC review (2007) looked at the top quality scientific studies that have been done on water fluoridation to answer two questions: ‘is it safe?’ and ‘is it effective at reducing dental decay?’ The answer, emphatically, to both questions, was ‘yes, it is safe’ and ‘yes, it does reduce dental decay between 20-40%, compared to communities that are not fluoridated.’”

Response: The NHMRC Review (2007) failed to impress.

Claim: “The fluoride that we get in Australia is derived from rocks in the soil. The only fluoridation chemicals that are allowed in Queensland’s water supply are: fluorosilicic acid (liquid), sodium fluorosilicate (powder), and sodium fluoride (powder). The reason only these three compounds are allowed to be used in the Queensland water supply, is that they all dissolve 100% in water. In terms of safety, before these compounds are placed in the water supply, they all undergo regular testing to ensure two things: 1) that the compound is pure and free from contaminants; 2) that the compound is of the appropriate concentration.”

Response: According to Professor Niyi Awofeso, University of Western Australia, “The fluosilicic acid brands used in artificially fluoridating Australia’s water supplies are known to be contaminated with lead, arsenic and mercury” (Awofeso 2012, p. 8). In 2006, the US National Research Council said, “Further analysis should be done of the concentrations of fluoride and various fluoride species or complexes (especially fluorosilicates and aluminofluorides) present in tap water, using a range of water samples (e.g., of different hardness and mineral content). Research also should include characterizing any changes in speciation that occur when tap water is used for various purposes—for example, to make acidic beverages. The possibility of biological effects of SiF62−, as opposed to free fluoride ion, should be examined. The biological effects of aluminofluoride complexes should be researched further, including the conditions (exposure conditions and physiological conditions) under which the complexes can be expected to occur and to have biological effects” (NRC 2006, p. 88). The NRC also mentioned that some people may be hypersensitive to certain fluoridation chemicals (NRC 2006, p. 303). To learn more about fluoridation chemicals, visit our Fluoridation Chemicals page.

Claim: “The reason why they (i.e. European nations) do not universally adopt water fluoridation, is that in Europe, a lot of the water supplies are small, independent water suppliers; so, logistically and economically, it is difficult to implement water fluoridation over in Europe. Instead, what they have done is to choose to fluoridate their salt, and that’s how people in Europe get the protective benefits of fluoride.”

Response: Simply NOT TRUE. For more information, click here.

Claim: “One of the associated/possible complications with fluoridating the water supply, is dental fluorosis (mottling of the teeth – white or brown specs). The incidence of fluorosis in a populations, where the water supply is fluoridated, is about 20%. Having said that, the vast majority of dental fluorosis in a fluoridated community is not detectable to the naked eye; although a dentist may be able to identify it. Of that 20%, an even smaller percentage may have moderate dental fluorosis, which is easily treatable with conservative and economical measures. Very rarely, people get severe fluorosis (where pits occur in the teeth – some discolouration), which is also quite conservatively treated, and the teeth can look excellent again (the patient’s smile can be restored virtually to normal).”

Response: Dental fluorosis is a biomaker of systemic/toxic over-exposure to fluoride in the tooth-forming years. As Connett asks, “What is the evidence that has convinced you, or the experts upon whom you rely, that fluoride can damage the growing tooth cells (by some systemic mechanism) without damaging any other tissue in the child’s developing body? How convincing is this evidence?” (Key Critical Questions #9; also see: this presentation; and 3.3 Dental Fluorosis).

Claim: “It is surprising that the public fluoridation debate continues, because the vast majority of Australia (regional and metropolitan) is fluoridated. Queensland was the last state to come on line with water fluoridation. Queensland, prior to water fluoridation, had one of the highest decay rates in all Australia (second only to the Northern Territory, which has more rural/remote towns, and a higher indigenous population).”

Response: Before you believe this line of crap, watch this.

Claim: “The primary reason that public debate continues in Queensland, is primarily because Queenslanders are a passionate, opinionated people.”

Response: Queenslanders, what the propaganda merchants of fluoridation don’t want you to know is this.

Claim: “Fluoridation is not mass medication; it is basically just altering something that’s naturally-occurring in the water supply, to a level that will benefit the health of all.”

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, p. 246). Unlike all other water treatment processes, fluoridation does not treat the water itself, but the person consuming it.

Claim: “With any sort of substance, you want to have the appropriate dose that is of therapeutic/health benefit, and not at high levels where it could potentially cause issues. For example, Vitamin A is an essential nutrient for health, but too much of it can cause serious health issues.”

Response: “1. Iron, folic acid, and vitamin D are known essential nutrients. Fluoride is not. 2. All of those substances have large margins of safety between their toxic levels and their beneficial levels. Fluoride does not. 3. People who do not want those supplements can seek out foods without them. It is much more difficult to avoid tap water” (Connett, Beck & Micklem 2010, p. 247). Furthermore, “while engineers can control the concentration of the fluoride added to the water supply no one can control the dose people get each day. This will depend on how much water they drink and how much fluoride they get from other sources” (Citizens are Being Misled 2009).

Claim: “In terms of thyroid issues, skeletal fluorosis, or cancer – which some people claim could be a potential side-effect of water fluoridation – we just have to look at the evidence; and over many decades of water fluoridation throughout other states and other countries in the world, there is not an increased rate of those issues compared to a state such as Queensland, which has only recently introduced water fluoridation.”

Response: Key health studies have not been done (50 Reasons #45). For further reading, refer to FAN’s Health Effects Database.

For more counter-arguments to Dr. Wong’s claims

Read this book.

Author: AFA Mildura

Administrator, Anti-Fluoridation Association of Mildura

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