FYI... This forwarded
Guardian (UK) article and its review of a new exhaustively
documented book by noted mainstream investigative journalist, Chris Bryson:
A kick in the teeth
hailed as a harmless chemical that would prevent tooth decay. But a new book
claims that fluoride could be linked to serious health problems.
Tuesday June 8, 2004
A 50-year-old medical controversy is about to be re-ignited. The government
is considering the introduction of further fluoridation schemes throughout
the country. To facilitate that, the Water Act passed last November
indemnified water companies from civil or criminal actions as a result of
adding fluoride to public water supplies.
Fluoridation was first advanced in the United States at the end of the
second world war. Proponents argued that fluoride in water and toothpaste
would help to protect teeth and prevent decay. It was a time of scientific
evangelism, when chemicals meant progress and the public trusted them to
bring about a safer, cleaner future.
Throughout the 1950s and 60s, fluoride was added to public water supplies
not just across the US but also in Britain. The areas now served by the
Severn Trent, Northumbrian and Anglian water companies are fluoridated,
mainly those in the West Midlands and Tyneside - about 10% of the UK
population. Much of the Republic of Ireland has been fluoridated since 1964.
As dental health rapidly improved during those decades, so the benefits
of fluoridation were held to be incontestable. However, with better diet and
treatment, dental health was improving across the western world,
irrespective of fluoridation. Recent studies of communities in Finland,
Cuba, Canada and east Germany have found that rates of dental decay did not
rise (and, indeed, continued to decline) after fluoridation was abandoned.
Fluoridation today is largely restricted to English-speaking countries.
Many believe that the effects of fluoride on teeth, beneficial or
otherwise, are irrelevant; what matters is the accumulating research
evidence that fluoride may have serious adverse health effects. However, the
government wanted to extend fluoridation schemes, ostensibly to benefit
those in poorer areas. So, it set up the York Review to allow leading
scientists to examine the issue. One of the review's conclusions in
September 2000 was that there had been "surprisingly" little
research into fluoride's harmful effects, and emphasised the need for
"high-quality rsearch", specifically into the possible links
between fluoride and "infant mortality, congenital defects and
A subsequent inquiry into fluoridation by the Medical Research Council
recommended an updated analysis of data on fluoride and cancer rates, but
concluded that "there is no evidence for any significant health effects
on the immune system, or reproductive and developmental (birth) defects and
no specific research is recommended, although it is appropriate to keep the
area under review."
Now, a new book, The Fluoride Deception by Christopher Bryson, just
published in the US, examines the background of the fluoridation debate.
Bryson, who has had the advantage of access to recently declassified files,
concludes that fluoridation is a triumph not of medical science but of US
government spin, adding that, "The very same professionals and
institutions who told us that fluoride was safe said much the same about
lead, asbestos or DDT, or persuaded us to smoke more cigarettes."
In fact, in the 1930s, the
very first researcher into fluoride, a Dane called Kaj Roholm,
specifically advised against exposing children to fluoride, but his work
was soon buried. Bryson links the subsequent "discovery" that
fluoride benefited teeth with research paid for by major US industries
that needed to be able to defend "lawsuits from workers and
communities poisoned by industrial fluoride emissions".
In 1955, farmers in
Oregon took Reynolds Metals to court, alleging harm from fluoride emissions.
The key medical experts for the farmers were Donald Hunter, an English
specialist in industrial diseases, who told the court that fluoride was
particularly dangerous because it was "an enzyme poison"; and Dr
Richard Capps from Chicago, who gave evidence that fluoride displaced iodine
in the body, thus leading to thyroid dysfunction. The farmers won a
sensational victory, and US industrialists were shaken. Dr Robert Kehoe, whose
work was funded by major US companies, resolved - according to Bryson - to
create a new medical orthodoxy that would be unassailable in future court
cases. Kehoe set up an experiment with beagles, with the dogs breathing in
fluoride. The results were alarming, and showed that fluoride travelled
rapidly from the lungs into the blood stream, causing significant harm.
Lawyers for major US companies received copies of the dog study; needless to
say, it went no further. Until Bryson found it, no one knew of its existence.
The drive to encourage
public acceptance of fluoride was handed over to Edward Bernays, known as the
father of PR, or the original spin doctor, and the man who helped persuade
women to take up smoking. "You can get practically any idea
accepted," Bernays explained, "if doctors are in favour. The public
is willing to accept it because a doctor is an authority to most people,
regardless of how much he knows or doesn't know."
Among the things that
the doctors who endorsed fluoridation didn't know, according to Bryson, were
that research impugning fluoride's safety was either suppressed or not
conducted in the first place. When one doctor reported that fluoride
supplements produced harmful side-effects in pregnant women, he received no
funding to carry out further work.
So fluoride became
equated with scientific progress, and those opposing it were dismissed as
cranks. For 30 years, little changed, with both sides in their entrenched
Yet putting fluoride
into the water supply - at what the Department of Health considers to be the
"safe" level of one part per million - would, according to opponents
in the UK, appear to ignore some important considerations. First, they say it
does not allow for individual sensitivities to fluoride. Second, those
suffering dietary deficiencies, who may be low in calcium, magnesium and
essential nutrients (in other words, the poor and those in ill-health), will
be more vulnerable to fluoride's toxic properties. Third, the level of
fluoride in the water supply is no indication of an individual's actual
exposure. Those in certain professions - for example, labourers or athletes -
will take in more water, and therefore more fluoride.
Also, there is regular
exposure from other sources - fluoride toothpaste, of course, as well as
pesticide residues and pharmaceuticals. In 1994, the World Health Organisation
recommended that public health administrators should be aware of "the
total fluoride exposure in the population". In fact, in Britain during
the past 30 years, anti-fluoridation campaigners claim that the public's
overall exposure to fluoride has become much greater, while the government's
ostensible "safe" limit has remained exactly the same.
They say that two of
the major concerns in childhood development today could be explained by
fluoride. If it interferes with the central nervous system, as some studies
have shown, then that could help to explain the growing prevalence of
Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
There is also concern
that fluoride displaces iodine in the human body. Iodine is essential for
normal functioning of the thyroid gland. If fluoride, by displacing iodine,
does inhibit thyroid activity, then that would lead to weight gain and
Moreover, iodine is
essential for brain development. There are now epidemiological studies from
China that link fluoride exposure with lower IQ levels. After Dr Phyllis
Mullinex, a leading neurotoxicologist in Boston, had carried out work on rats,
she reported that fluoride was likely to lead to lower IQs. She was fired.
Bryson believes that
what has made fluoride so impervious to criticism so far is not just the PR
offensive, but also - paradoxically - fluoride's overall toxicity. Unlike
chemicals that have a signature effect (like the mesothelioma caused
byasbestos), fluoride is, he says, "a systemic poison, likely to produce
a range of health problems", so that its effects are harder to diagnose.
"We've known about
all this for a long time," says Jane Jones of the National Pure Water
Association, which campaigns against fluoride, "now I hope the wider
public will sit up and take notice".
There are many in the
UK who support the fluoridation of our water supply, among them Ian Wylie,
chief executive of the British Dental Association, who argued in this paper
recently: "Scientific opinion worldwide is that low-dose fluoride has a
beneficial effect on oral health. In America, almost two-thirds of the
population has drunk water with fluoride, without a problem, for
The government has
promised that no further fluoridation schemes will be implemented without
public consultations beforehand. The debate is likely to be fierce and
· The Fluoride
Deception is available in this country through Turnaround Distributors.
Santa Monicans for Safe Drinking Water Coalition; www.smsdw.org
Thanks to CK from www.NYSCOF.com for sending this.
For products without fluoride