Fluoride Action Network

Fluoridation – claims and counterclaims

Source: Otago Daily Times | December 6th, 2008
Location: New Zealand

1. Does it work?

CLAIM: “Fluoridation does not improve dental health – that is the finding of all large-scale studies.” – Fluoride Action Network NZ (FANNZ)

COUNTERCLAIM: “Community water supplies with optimum fluoride levels between 0.7 and 1ppm have consistently been shown to achieve about a 15% reduction in dental decay . . .” – Dr Marion Poore, Medical Officer of Health (Otago-Southland), Public Health South

CLAIM: “Dental decay rates were declining long before fluoridation was introduced, and continued to decline at the same rate regardless of whether fluoridation was started or not.” – FANNZ

COUNTERCLAIM: “This can largely be explained by the use of fluoride toothpaste and the crossover effects of food and water containing products from fluoridated areas. Most recent studies continue to show that the difference between fluoridated and non-fluoridated areas continues to be significant throughout life.” – Ministry of Health

2. Is it safe?

CLAIM: “Fluoride is a corrosive poison that will produce serious effects on a long-range basis.” – Dr Charles Gordon Heyd, past president American Medical Association, quoted on FANNZ website

COUNTERCLAIM: “It is impossible to experience fluoride toxicity from drinking water optimally fluoridated at levels between 0.7ppm to 1ppm. It would require drinking more than 5000 glasses of fluoridated water at one time.” – Ministry of Health

CLAIM: “I would advise against fluoridation . . . Side-effects cannot be excluded.” – Dr Arvid Carlsson, Nobel Prize for Medicine co-winner (2000), FANNZ website

COUNTERCLAIM: “The weight of scientific evidence supporting the safety and effectiveness of fluoridation is overwhelming . . . Many parts of the world have received naturally fluoridated water for thousands of years. Large human populations have now been exposed to community water fluoridation for many decades and no persuasive evidence links optimal fluoridation with any adverse health effects.” – Ministry of Health

CLAIM: “Boys exposed to fluoridated water between the ages of 6 and 10 years are 500% to 700% more likely to get bone cancer before age 20 than boys drinking non-fluoridated water.” – FANNZ website

COUNTERCLAIM: “The US Environmental Protection Agency stated in December 1997 that the weight of evidence from more than 50 epidemiological studies does not support the hypothesis of an association between fluoride exposure and increased cancer risk in humans.

“These claims are based on a study in the US and were found to be completely invalid by the mainstream scientific communities.

“In 1990, the US National Cancer Institute studied cancer in fluoridated areas.

The researchers looked at over two million cancer deaths and found no indication of a cancer risk associated with fluoridated drinking-water.

“The American Cancer Society has stated: Scientific studies show no connection between cancer rates in humans and adding fluoride to drinking water.

“The New Zealand Cancer Society stated in June 1999 that: The Cancer Society of New Zealand supports the Ministry of Health’s recommendation for continuation of water fluoridation and extension where technically feasible.” – Ministry of Health

CLAIM: “Recent studies have shown up to 60% fluorosis in fluoridated communities with significant numbers of individuals rated as ‘severe’ . . .” – FANNZ website

COUNTERCLAIM: “New Zealand information does not indicate that children are developing inappropriate levels of enamel fluorosis . . . The most recent New Zealand information from 9-year-old children in Southland indicates that about 5% of children had similar [severe] defects.

“These defects were just as common in children who had received fluoridated water as non-fluoridated water and the level of these defects had decreased about threefold from about 15% of children in the mid-1980s.” – Ministry of Health

3. Is it banned in Europe?

CLAIM: “Almost all of Western Europe has rejected water fluoridation.” – FANNZ website

COUNTERCLAIM: “No country has discontinued or refused to adopt fluoridation because it was proven harmful in any way . . . The American Dental Association stated in 1999 that no European country has specifically imposed a ban on fluoridation. It has simply not been implemented for a variety of technical or political reasons.” – Ministry of Health

4. Is it right?

CLAIM: “We feel strongly about the issues of fluoridation as we believe it is harmful to health and that every citizen should have the right to a public water supply free from medication.” – FANNZ Dunedin representative Olive McRae

COUNTERCLAIM: “Tooth decay will result in the lifelong repair of teeth or tooth loss. Decay causes pain and loss of self-esteem and it also costs individuals and the community to treat it.

Approximately $500 million is spent in New Zealand on dental treatment. The largest proportion of this is treating dental decay. Decayed teeth can affect people’s self-esteem and confidence about the way their teeth look or their bad breath.

“Although tooth decay remains a common disease, it is largely preventable. Dental decay does not have to be a fact of life – prevention is possible and fluoridation, along with a healthy diet, is the most cost-effective way to achieve this.” – Ministry of Health

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See also Tapping into fluoride argument