Fluoride Action Network

BBC: Experts quizzed over fluoride

Source: BBC News | October 20th, 2008
Location: United Kingdom, England

[The following is FAN’s transcript of the BBC interview]

Is adding fluoride to the water safe and does it improve dental health? Two important questions but the answers very much depend on who you listen to.

A major study by York University of 4000 scientific papers concluded that there is very little high quality evidence about the effects of fluoridation.

The York Review said that

“Water fluoridation was likely to have a beneficial effect, but that the range could be anywhere from a substantial benefit to a slight disbenefit to children’s teeth.”

And it went on

“An association with water fluoride and other adverse effects such as cancer, bone fracture and Down’s syndrome was not found. However, we felt that not enough was known because the quality of the evidence was poor.”

Those for and against fluoridation both point to the York Review to support their arguments. But the strongest message from the study was that more research needs to be done.

David Fenton, BBC South Today

NEW INTERVIEWER: Well joining me now is Dr. James Mapstone from the South Strategic Health Authority which is running the consultation. Dr. Mapstone what sort of response have you had so far? How concerned are people?

DR. MAPSTONE: Well, so far we’ve had 2000 formal responses to the consultation which I think is a very good start. We are half way through the process and we still want to encourage people to give us more of their views.

There’s a range of views from people who are very strongly for fluoride all the way to the section of people those who are very concerned about fluoride. Our view is to listen to that and we want to encourage people to come. For example this evening a question time event is being held at St. Mary’s Stadium at 7 o’clock this evening. We want to encourage people to come.

INTERVIEWER: Well fluoride is a water treatment and has been around for decades. I think people might be surprised that the science is not conclusive about its benefits.

DR. MAPSTONE: I think people will be very surprised about the level of evidence for so many of the things that we do in medicine. Medicine is one of those things that evidence evolves over time.

I think the important thing is that we always keep on questioning well what does the evidence say, should we stop this. Six million people in this country have water fluoridation already today and have done for forty years or so. We keep on having to ask should we stop or should we continue. We just have to keep having this question in mind.