A HEALTH minister has attacked fluoride “scare stories” as 8,000 Totton residents await the outcome of a legal battle over adding: it to their water supply.
Mike O’Brien answered a challenge by New Forest East MP Julian Lewis in the House of Commons by urging people to make judgements “based on the evidence”.
Totton was included in an area of about 190,000 people around Southampton who are set to have fluoride next year under an NHS initiative. It is being fought in the courts, however, by objectors who fear its side-effects and resent “forced medication”.
Dr Lewis is on the side of the anti-fluoride campaign which collected a 15,000-name petition against the plan. He told Mr O’Brien: “The minister has nailed his colours to the mast in favour of fluoridation.
“Does he accept the principle that no community should have its water fluoridated if a majority of the members of the community do not wish its water to be fluoridated?”
The minister pointed out the dangers of medical “scare stories” and said: “We need to make judgements on fluoridation based on the evidence.
“Stories always go round that can frighten people, and we have seen in this country a whole series of scare stories about vaccinations that resulted in a significant number of people being frightened out of giving those vaccinations to their children.
“As far as vaccination was concerned, there were some stories and as a result we are paying the price.”
The plan from Southampton Primary Care Trust was approved by the South Central Strategic Health Authority (SHA) in February as a way of targeting tooth decay among young children.
A Mori poll it carried out showed 38% opposed against 32% in support. Opponents fear fluoride has effects ranging from cancer to mottling of teeth, known as fluorosis — which is the only side-effect acknowledged as proven by the SHA.
As reported in the ‘A&T, Conservative shadow health minister Mike Penning said public support for fluoride under a Tory government would be “vital” before it could be implemented.
However, the scheme depends on a High Court action which has secured a judicial review of the SHA’s decision. A judgement is expected next year.