TOMORROW, peers will be asked to approve a piece of legislation so sinister, so Draconian and so far-reaching in its implications that it is hard to believe it is happening with barely a murmur of protest.
The new Bill will force water companies to add fluoride to all drinking water when ordered to do so by local health authorities – in other words, millions of us will be forced to take medication against our will.
It sounds like a totalitarian nightmare, and it is. Once fluoride is in the water supply, everyone will be exposed to it. It will be in our tea, coffee, food, and absorbed through the pores of our skin when we take baths or showers. For years, dental authorities have lobbied for fluoridation, arguing it prevents decay in children’s teeth – but dentists should play no part in the debate. The first, and most important, consideration is not teeth, but whether fluoride has adverse effects on the human body. There is mounting evidence that it does.
Cancer, osteoporosis, kidney problems and skeletal fluorosis – a crippling disease which causes muscle weakness and gastrointestinal disorders – have all been linked in scientific studies to fluoridation.
How ironic that, when France, Italy, Germany, Sweden, Denmark and Holland have all rejected mass water fluoridation, our government is embracing it with such enthusiasm.
Why? After all, even the evidence that adding fluoride to water prevents tooth decay is patchy. In December 2002, four leading British scientists, who had reviewed the subject, wrote to the Government pointing this out.
They said the effects of fluoride on teeth could range from ‘a substantial benefit to a slight disbenefit’. In other words, fluoride might actually be harming children’s teeth.
We shouldn’t really be surprised when we consider the origins of fluoridation. The Americans were the first to add fluorides – chemical compounds used by modern industry and commerce, which, once in the body, build up in teeth and bone – to water after World War II.
The plan was to study a fluoridated city and a non-fluoridated one in a five-year scientific experiment to see whether children’s teeth improved.
HOWEVER, the experiment was never carried out.
Within 18 months, the control city was also fluoridated on the grounds it was unfair to deprive children there of the ‘benefits’ of fluoridation.
So, instead of reaching a conclusion based on research, it was decided by the U.S. medical authorities, and the research was abandoned.
Yet despite this, fluoridation spread. Harold Wilson introduced it to Britain in the Sixties when about ten per cent of our water supply, reaching five million people, was fluoridated – mainly Birmingham, the West Midlands, and the Newcastle area. Much of the U.S. followed suit, as did Ireland and parts of Australia and New Zealand.
Forty years later, however, it has still not been conclusively proved that fluoride benefits children’s teeth. One British study found children in fluoridated areas suffered, on average, 15 per cent less tooth decay compared to those in non-fluoridated areas.
But studies in Finland, Germany, Cuba and Canada found the rate of dental decay did not increase when communities stopped fluoridation.
So how is it supposed to work?
Well, astonishingly, no one knows.
One of the main possibilities is that it helps the re-mineralisation of teeth enamel.
If this is true, then it is a process that works simply through fluoride being applied to the surface of the teeth. Therefore, the benefits can be obtained through fluoride toothpaste, and there is no point in adding fluoride to the water supply.
A second way in which fluoride might work is by suppressing the enzymes that cause the build-up of the acid that leads to tooth decay.
But is fluoride clever enough to know that it should affect just those enzymes and no others? Of course not. Different enzymes will react to fluoride in different ways, and some enzyme systems will function less efficiently.
There will also be a range of individual responses to fluoride, in which age, sex, race and genetic susceptibility will play a part. It is a chilling thought, but if the Government adds fluoride to the water supply, then it will be saying to some people, we are going to make you ill.
Once fluoride is in the body, one of its actions is to displace iodine, which ensures the correct functioning of the thyroid gland.
The consequences of an underperforming thyroid include muscle and joint pain, high cholesterol, heart disease, weight gain, fatigue and low energy levels. Not surprisingly, having an underactive thyroid is a increasing problem for people in the U.S., the world’s most fluoridated country.
In the Eighties, scientists wondered whether fluoride could help treat bone disease, and gave fluoride to patients suffering from osteoporosis in an attempt to harden their bones and prevent fractures.
The trials had to be abandoned, however, when it became clear that patients were suffering more fractures. Studies have also linked fluoride to osteosarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer.
Even more alarmingly, reports from China have shown that children growing up in fluoridated areas have lower IQs than those in non-fluoride areas.
Birmingham has been fluoridated for 35 years, so one might expect people’s teeth to be in a better condition than elsewhere in the country. Yet that is not the case. The cost of dental treatment per person in Birmingham is as high as in other major cities.
But why is this government so in thrall to the pro-fluoridation lobby?
Ministers point to statistics showing that by the age of five, two out of three children in the most deprived parts of the country have at least one rotten tooth.
Fluoridation is a way of acting when feckless parents won’t.
Yet it is precisely these children whose bodies are already low in calcium, magnesium and essential nutrients who are going to be most at risk from fluoride poisoning.
More cynically, campaigners attribute ministers’ enthusiasm to astute lobbying from the big chemical companies.
Fluoride is a waste product of the phosphate fertiliser industry. If it was classified as toxic waste, firms would have to pay to get it cleaned up. But if they persuade the Government that fluoride should be added to our water supply, then they can make money from it.
LIKE previous administrations, this government has started from the conclusion that fluoridation is a good thing. Plan A was to gather government-friendly scientists to give fluoride the all clear.
That was the York Review of September 2000, which, unfortunately, concluded there had been few studies into fluoride’s harmful effects, and emphasised the need for research into the links between fluoride and ‘infant mortality, congenital defects and IQ’.
So Plan B was to get together an even friendlier group of scientists from the Medical Research Council. However, in September 2002, even its report acknowledged that ‘little high quality research has been undertaken in the area of fluoride and health’. Plan C, wheeled out just days ago, was to go ahead with fluoridation anyway.
New legislation will indemnify water companies against damage to public health caused by fluoride – in other words, if victims of fluoridation go to court, taxpayers will foot the bill.
Water companies will no longer be allowed to refuse requests by the health authorities to add fluoride to their water.
The Government says fluoride schemes will be subject to public approval.
Just how it intends to obtain this is unclear. Certainly, those unfortunate people in Birmingham were not asked for approval before their city was fluoridated.
Before more of us are exposed to the potential dangers of fluoridation we are entitled to an answer to the following question – is there published peer-reviewed scientific research linking fluoride to cancer, poor thyroid function, stillbirths, Down’s syndrome, the early onset of puberty, increased rates of hip fracture, and diminished IQ levels in children?
The straight answer is, ‘Yes’. If the Government presses ahead with this sinister programme of forced medication, then political morality will have sunk to new depths.