THOSE health bureaucrats who want to force fluoride on the water supplies of rural NSW should learn from their cousins north of the border. This year, well-meaning people have again tried, unsuccessfully, to force mandatory water fluoridation on Queensland.
Now I am not a scientist but there seem to be five prongs to their offensive: everyone else is doing it; the “authorities” say it is safe; the “experts” say it is effective; the opponents are nutcases; the issue of fluoridation is beyond debate.
Let me look at these one at a time. First, everyone else is doing it. This approach might be good for selling shoes, but it is hardly the way to sell medicine. Not so long ago, tens of thousands of patients in Australia were taking Vioxx. Yet if we are really interested in what everyone else is doing, the vast majority of human beings on this planet are not being forced to drink artificially fluoridated water. Most of Europe has rejected it.
Second, the “authorities” say it is safe. Let’s look at one of those authorities. In 1991, the National Health and Medical Research Council recommended that Australian health authorities track the level of fluoride in our bones to see how much is accumulating and to see if it is making them more brittle. This has not been done. We are flying blind.
Third, the experts say it is “effective”. Last year, two Australian experts, J.M. Armfield and A.J. Spencer, published a study of 10,000 children in South Australia and reported no difference in tooth decay in the permanent teeth of children who had lived all their lives drinking fluoridated water and those drinking rain or bottled water. The result? One of the experts recommended that we add fluoride to bottled water.
Fourth, the opponents are “nutcases”. This is how John-Paul Langbroek, a dentist and now the Liberal MP for Surfers Paradise, described opponents in Queensland parliament a few weeks ago. He said they had been “infected” by the “piffle of people who are either insanely misguided on the science of the issue or have some sick desire to see children suffer at the hands of the dentist’s drill”.
I wonder if Langbroek would describe Arvid Carlsson that way? This scientist won the Nobel Prize for medicine in 2000 and led the successful campaign against fluoridation in Sweden.
Another scientific opponent of compulsory water fluoridation toured Australia last October. Paul Connett has a PhD in chemistry, has studied the issue for nine years, has no financial axe to grind and has challenged all and sundry to publicly debate the matter with him. Apart from one veterinarian in Victoria nobody would take him on.
For those who believe there are no serious health concerns I recommend that they read Christopher Bryson’s The Fluoride Deception, published last year, and visit www.fluorideaction.net/health, where they will see an abundance of recent studies. To claim that you can’t trust anything on the internet is childish. An article that has appeared in a peer-reviewed journal does not suddenly become invalid because it is made available to a wider audience.
Fifth, the issue of fluoridation is beyond debate. Nothing is beyond debate in science. An ugly fact can always destroy a beautiful theory, and with fluoridation there is a growing number of ugly facts.
For example, in humans fluoride accumulates in the pineal gland. Now I don’t know what that will mean down the road, but who wants to find out the hard way?
More importantly, a recent study from China shows that hip fractures in the elderly approximately double at 1.5 parts per million of fluoride in the water, compared with the level we put fluoride in our water (1ppm). There is no margin of safety for this serious end point when you consider that we cannot control how much water people drink.
It is not just our elderly bones at stake. A study from Mexico shows that the frequency of bone fractures in children increases as the severity of dental fluorosis (an indicator of fluoride exposure in children) increases, and this condition is rapidly rising in Australia.
There have been mixed findings on the increase of osteosarcoma in young males living in fluoridated communities. Although this is not clear-cut, why on earth would we risk the death of even one child from this frequently fatal bone cancer for a minuscule saving in tooth decay?
Why should we be forced to take any of these risks, when those promoting it cannot defend fluoridation in public with scientific opponents? The Europeans have clearly shown us that they can accomplish similar reductions in tooth decay without forced fluoridation.
Anti-fluoride campaigners have kept fluoridation out of Brisbane and most of the northern state. Hopefully the rest of Australia will learn from Queensland’s example and from Europe that it is not necessary.
Rather, what is really needed is that we learn to challenge orthodoxy, especially with those issues where the orthodox encourage us to not think for ourselves.