Like most of you, I’m not a doctor or scientist. And like all of you, I don’t have time to research every subject I need to make a decision about. We typically look to the opinions of individuals and organizations we know and trust and act accordingly.
I’m the former chief executive officer of the Oregon American Cancer Society and, until I retired last year, the founder and director for the Campaign for Safe Food, a program of Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility.
I once supported water fluoridation. The federal government had approved it, and many organizations whose members I worked with, such as the American Medical Association and American Dental Association, had endorsed it.
But then a few people I respected, knowing I’ve worked on health issues most of my life, asked me five years ago to research fluoridation. When I did, I was amazed and chagrined.
First, it was abundantly clear that there is no consensus fluoridation is safe for human health. On the contrary, there are hundreds of recent, peer-reviewed human and animal studies that raise red flags.
Many of them were reviewed in the landmark 2006 report Fluoride in Drinking Water by the National Research Council of the National Academies of Science, considered the gold standard of scientific inquiry. This 507-page volume is chock full of scientific data expressing concern over fluoride’s harmful effects, including fluorosis in teeth, bone fractures, possible bone cancer, kidney and thyroid disease and neurotoxic effects, including the lowering of intelligence.
Lower IQ? Whoa, indeed.
Most countries in the world have either not started fluoridation or stopped it. Only 27 of 196 nations have fluoridated water, and only 11 have more than 50 percent of their population drinking it.
Most nations in Europe won’t fluoridate. A French official stated that fluoridation wasn’t allowed “due to ethical as well as medical considerations.”
To me, the National Academies of Science report’s most disturbing section showed high-fluoride areas in China lowering the IQ scores of kids by seven to 10 points.
Fluoride levels were higher than in the United States and each study had weaknesses, but the National Academies of Science nevertheless concluded “the consistency of the collective results warrants additional research on the effects of fluoride on intelligence.”
Then, just weeks ago, a Harvard meta- analysis funded by the National Institutes of Health examined 27 studies, 25 of which also showed children in high-fluoride areas having lower IQ scores, further confirming the National Academies of Science’s findings. The institute reported that the effects of fluoride lowering intelligence should be a “high research priority.”
Look at just a partial list of substances once declared safe, only to be found harmful upon further research — lead, asbestos, tobacco, DES, DDT, thalidomide. The prevailing science is going down the very same road for water fluoridation.
Please urge all City Council members to vote against a practice that we, our children and grandchildren may pay dearly for.
Our mothers’ words never rang so true: “Better safe than sorry.”
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