Press Release (TV One) – July 8, 2013
A Panel Discussion (hosted by Susan Wood; featuring Jennifer Curtin, Nick Leggett and David Farrar)
Statement/Claim: “This seems as though it’s not an issue about science; it’s people’s values versus science.”
Response/Rebuttal: When a research team from the University of York examined the science on fluoridation, they concluded, “We were unable to discover any reliable good-quality evidence in the fluoridation literature world-wide.” For those who care to look, water fluoridation has a quality of evidence problem, thus to dismiss the entire movement of opposition to fluoridation as entirely “values-based,” is nothing more than a desperate propaganda tactic to keep the public away from this inconvenient fact. The truth is, many health issues remain unresolved, and the evidence for benefit from water fluoridation is very weak.
Statement/Claim: “But I trust the medical officer of health. I trust the Ministry of Health.”
Response/Rebuttal: This appeal to authority is common, desperate, and is a clear indication of someone who has not critically analysed the issue for themselves. As noted by Krauss (2012, TC 0:10:43), true science is inherently anti-authoritarian and there is no one whose word cannot be questioned. Perhaps Groth (1991) said it best: “The political profluoridation stance has evolved into a dogmatic, authoritarian, essentially antiscientific posture, one that discourages open debate of scientific issues.” Therefore, those who do not question this stance are nothing more than lambs to the slaughter – and consequently, many have been misled by fluoridation promoters over many years. The list of substances that “used to be considered safe” – and indeed were once promoted by authorities and big industry as such – is almost too numerous to list; and those who deny this history cannot learn from it. Industrial fluoridation of water supplies is not exempt from such scrutiny.
Statement/Claim: “I don’t think they’re trying to dupe New Zealanders into ingesting poison… Well, why would they be?”
Response/Rebuttal: Suggested reading: The Case Against Fluoride (2010) (Ch. 26, The Promoters’ Motivations); Suggested viewing: The Politics of Fluoride (c. 2010) & Dr. Paul Connett’s WACCT interview (2013, TC 08:50).
Statement/Claim: “All of our urbanised councils have fluoridation in the water between 0.7 and 1 milligram per litre of water. And it’s not poisonous.”
Response/Rebuttal: “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). “The amount of fluoride necessary to cause these effects to susceptible members of the population is at or below the dose received from current levels of fluoride recommended for water fluoridation. The recommended Maximum Contaminant Level Goal (MCLG) for fluoride in drinking water should be zero” (Carton 2006, p. 163). For further research, refer to FAN’s Health Effects Database.
Statement/Claim: “Anything is poisonous in a high enough quantity, in a high enough volume… Even water itself… We would all die of water intoxication before we died of fluoride poisoning by drinking out of any NZ water supply.”
Response/Rebuttal: See: A Response to Pro-Fluoridation Claims (Claim #5 & Claim #6).
Statement/Claim: “Fluoride is naturally occurring in other areas of the world, so populations don’t have to have fluoridated water.”
Response/Rebuttal: Not entirely true. For example, “In some countries such schemes have been withdrawn. These include Germany, Finland, Japan, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Switzerland. Systematic information on the rationale behind these decisions is not available. In the Swiss canton of Basel-Stadt, the fluoridation scheme was withdrawn in 2003 after 41 years of operation because other measures were of “comparable effectiveness” to “compulsory medication”” (Cheng et al. 2007). However, a series of official statements obtained by FAN demonstrate that both medical and ethical reasons are behind the widespread reluctance to artificially fluoridate water supplies, at least across Europe. To take just one example of many, Sweden rejected fluoridation decades ago, and the anti-fluoridation campaign was led by Dr. Arvid Carlsson, MD, PhD, who would later become a Nobel Laureate in Medicine (2000). As noted by Carlsson in 2010, “Sweden rejected fluoridation… our children have not suffered greater tooth decay, as World Health Organization figures attest, and in turn our citizens have not borne the other hazards fluoride may cause.” Further reading: Dr. Paul Connett responds to Wichitans for Healthy Teeth (2012).
Statement/Claim: “But just to give you’re a Porirua example, we know that Porirua children have a 30 per cent to 40 per cent reduction in dental cavities in comparison to similar populations that aren’t fluoridated.”
Response/Rebuttal: “In chapters 6–8, we examined in detail the evidence for ﬂuoridation’s beneﬁts and found it to be very weak. Even a 20 percent reduction in tooth decay is a ﬁgure rarely found in more recent studies. Moreover, we have to remember that percentages can give a very misleading picture. For example, if an average of two decayed tooth surfaces are found in a non-ﬂuoridated group and one decayed surface in a ﬂuoridated group, that would amount to an impressive 50 percent reduction. But when we consider the total of 128 surfaces on a complete set of teeth, the picture—which amounts to an absolute saving in tooth decay of a mere 0.8 percent—does not look so impressive” (A Response to Pro-Fluoridation Claims, Claim #19).
Statement/Claim: “Look at what the peak bodies say. Internationally, the World Health Organization, the American Dental Association, almost every dental group in the world says this is good for you.”
Response/Rebuttal: “Endorsements do not represent scientific evidence. 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 rational for doing so. The continued use of these endorsements has more to do with political science than medical science” (50 Reasons, #46). Also see: Citizens are Being Misled (2009) & Dr. Carnie Needs to Answer Questions (2010).
Statement/Claim: “And if you look at motivations, it’s not like when, for example, in NZ, the Motor Trade Association comes out and say, ‘We need more often vehicle tests’ because they own vehicle testing stations. I think dentists would make more money if we had worse teeth. So when dental associations say this is good, there are actually acting against their own best interests.”
Response/Rebuttal: This claim doesn’t consider expensive treatment for dental fluorosis (Limeback 2012; FAN n.d.; Connett 2011, TC 05:14; The Investigators 1993). This claim also fails to mention that it was reported in Nature as early as 1986 that, “a scientific re-examination of the alleged enormous benefits of fluoridation” was/is required. As time has passed, the evidence (for ‘enormous’ benefit) has continually failed to impress; and this 1986 statement has become more important in light of modern data. The evidence of benefit from water fluoridation is incredibly weak (Limeback 2000, #1; Connett 2012, TC 0:46:12; Thiessen 2013, TC 0:07:15). The claim above, therefore, is a red herring, designed to trick the ignorant observer, who may be unaware of the following fact: “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” (Cheng et al. 2007). However, as Awofeso (2012) highlights, “the risk of dental ﬂuorosis increases as ﬂuoride concentration of water exceeds 0.3 parts per million.” Furthermore, Warren et al. (2009) noted, “achieving a caries-free status may have relatively little to do with fluoride intake, while fluorosis is clearly more dependent on fluoride intake.” So what does this mean, in simple terms? Answer: As fluoride concentrations in water and individual fluoride intakes increase, decreases in tooth decay rates do not necessarily follow; but one thing is sure to follow – i.e. increased rates of dental fluorosis. Ergo, dentists in non-fluoridated vs. fluoridated communities would make equivalent amounts of money (going by tooth decay treatment alone), but the one marked difference with a dentist in a fluoridated community, if anything, would be increased earnings from dental fluorosis treatments!
Statement/Claim: “And I actually sit on a council where we’re subjected to people who are anti-fluoride on a fairly regular basis, and I would call it pseudo-science that they quote. They selectively quote. They’re quite fundamentalist in their approach, it would be fair to say, and there are scare tactics. Now, you have to listen with an open mind, of course, but the real science, as David said, does stack up.”
Response/Rebuttal: “The review team was surprised that in spite of the large number of studies carried out over several decades there is a dearth of reliable evidence with which to inform policy. Until high quality studies are undertaken providing more definite evidence, there will continue to be legitimate scientific controversy over the likely effects and costs of water fluoridation” (Sheldon 2001, #7); “What is now clear is that, if proposed today, fluoridation of drinking water to prevent tooth decay would stand virtually no chance of being adopted, given the current status of scientific knowledge” (Howard 2010, p. 173).
Their Final Words: “Now, I’ll have some fluoride. (TAKES A DRINK OF WATER)… (LAUGHS) Have some fluoride.”
Our Final Words: Please, guys, keep drinking. Drink lots and lots and lots. Fine by us; we feel you truly deserve it.