A staunch opponent of water fluoridation presented the science behind his case Thursday during a presentation to the Southern Alberta Council on Public Affairs.
Numerous studies from around the world cast serious doubt on the effectiveness and safety of adding fluoride to public drinking water, said James Beck, a University of Calgary professor emeritus of medical biophysics.
But even aside from those concerns, he said, there’s no ethical basis for adding what amounts to an unapproved, untested drug to water.
“It’s given to us without our informed consent,” he said. “They’re treating us in a way a medical doctor can’t even treat you without seeing you, without talking to you.”
Beck cited a 1990 study in the United States and 1996 study in Australia which both found only a negligible difference in the incidence of tooth decay among people drinking fluoridated water compared to those who drank water without fluoride.
In addition, he said, a variety of possible health problems such as reduced bone strength, thyroid abnormalities and early arthritis may be linked to water fluoridation in concentrations ranging from 0.9-1.8 parts per million.
He noted fluoride occurs naturally in mothers’ breast milk at a concentration of 0.04 ppm.
Since 2003, the fluoride concentration for City of Lethbridge water has been 0.07 ppm, in keeping with provincial guidelines.
Beck, who recently co-authored the book “The Case Against Fluoride,” acknowledged water fluoridation has long been a controversial and polarizing issue.
The best resolution to the debate, he said, would be for “both sides and everyone in the middle to open their minds” and give a more respectful hearing to both perspectives.
Controversy over fluoride is nothing new in southern Alberta, either. It was a contentious issue for two decades before being implemented in 1974 following a plebiscite in which 50.6 per cent of participants voted in favour. It was the city’s fifth plebiscite on fluoridation in 17 years.