NZ scientists use inaccurate review to promote fluoridation

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[Original article here]

For over 70 years the promotion of fluoridation has been based on “authority” rather than sound science. Thus it came as no surprise when the NZ Ministry of Health in their current attempt to introduce mandatory fluoridation by stealth, called on some prestigious scientists and researchers to produce a blue ribbon panel report to support the claims that the practice is safe. Heading up this panel were none other than the Prime minister’s chief scientific adviser Sir Peter Gluckman along with Sir David Skegg, president of the Royal Society of New Zealand. The panel faithfully obliged and their report was released on August 22, 2014 and entitled: Health Effects of Water Fluoridation: a Review of the Scientific EvidenceGluckman and Skegg signed off on the review’s content and their overall conclusion (surprise, surprise) was that fluoridation is “safe.”

However, the report is full of mistakes, omissions, misrepresentations and selective use of the literature. One of the biggest mistakes came in their cavalier dismissal of the Harvard meta-analysis of 27 IQ studies (Choi et al., 2012). Gluckman and Skegg repeat a major mistake made by many promoters of fluoridation. They incorrectly stated that the average lowering of IQ in 26 of the 27 studies was a downward shift of “less than 1 IQ point.” However this mistake was corrected by Choi et al over 2 year’s ago. It was not a drop of half an IQ point but a drop of half of one standard deviation, which is the equivalent of 7 IQ points. That is a very big difference!

The Gluckman and Skegg team “corrected” this mistake in an updated version of their report. But they corrected their mistake in a way that would not be clear to the layperson but worse still made this change without changing the conclusion derived from the mistake. This conclusion – for anyone knowledgeable on the subject – is ridiculous, but unfortunately many will be deceived by this manipulation and conclude there is no problem with fluoride’s neurotoxicity – and specifically its ability to lower IQ in children.

Thus I urge you to compare below the original and corrected version of their text. I have put in bold the words changed and the derived conclusion in italics -this conclusion is not changed between the two versions.

ORIGINAL VERSION: “Recently there have been a number of reports from China and other areas …that have claimed an association between high water fluoride levels and minimally reduced intelligence (measured as IQ) in children…the claimed shift of less than one IQ point suggests that this is likely to be a measurement or statistical artifact of no functional significance”

CORRECTED VERSION: “Recently there have been a number of reports from China and other areas …that have claimed an association between high water fluoride levels and minimally reduced intelligence (measured as IQ) in children…the claimed shift of less than one standard deviation suggests that this is likely to be a measurement or statistical artifact of no functional significance.”

If this correction had been stated more clearly, as it should have been, it would have appeared as:

“Recently there have been a number of reports from China and other areas …that have claimed an association between high water fluoride levels and minimally (should have been omitted, PC) reduced intelligence (measured as IQ) in children…the claimed shift of 7 IQ points suggests that this is likely to be a measurement or statistical artifact of no functional significance.”

Communicated this way it would have been obvious that the conclusion was sheer nonsense, since a shift downwards of 7 IQ points -were it to occur – would more than halve the number of geniuses in the NZ population and more than double the number of mentally handicapped. That would have huge economic and social implications for NZ but according to Gluckman and Skegg and their “corrected” version stands, “it would have no functional significance”!

So we are left with a very uncomfortable question, did Gluckman and Skegg and their advisers simply make a clumsy mistake, or was this a deliberate attempt to deceive the public?

In addition to the specific deception above, their overview of neurotoxicity was highly selective and self-serving. Other than the Harvard meta-analysis they ignored the over 300 animal and human studies that also lend weight to fluoride’s neurotoxicity, but selected one study that failed to find a difference in IQ between a fluoridated and non-fluoridated community – Broadbent et al., 2014. How selective is that? Moreover, they failed to note that this study has been critiqued for its lack of power to detect a difference (see the Feb 2016 letter by Osmunson, Limeback and Neurath that was published in the same journal where the Broadbent article was published).  There were virtually no controls. There were over 900 children in the fluoridated community but less than 90 in the non-fluoridated and about half of these were exposed to fluoride via supplements.

Despite the many mistakes and misrepresentations it contains, this review is still being heavily used to engineer mandatory fluoridation in NZ.  Gluckman and Skegg and their co-authors have let down the public, who have the right to expect far better from such “prestigious” scientists and the bodies they represent.

-Paul Connett, PhD,

Co-author of The Case Against Fluoride (Chelsea Green, 2010) and senior adviser to the Fluoride Action Network

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Author: AFA Mildura

Administrator, Anti-Fluoridation Association of Mildura

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