Young boys who drink fluoridated water are at an increased risk of developing bone cancer, according to a new study published in the May issue of the journal, Cancer Causes and Control.
A team of Harvard University scientists, led by Dr. Elise Bassin, found a five fold increased risk of developing osteosarcoma in teenage boys who drank fluoridated water at ages 6, 7, and 8. The research, funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, reinforces previous findings in both animals and humans. Dr. William Mass, the head of oral health at the Centers for Disease Control, told the Wall Street Journal that Bassin “did great shoe-leather epidemiology.”
According to Fluoride Action Network (FAN) Executive Director, Dr. Paul Connett, “Increasing a child’s risk of contracting a frequently fatal bone cancer is too high a price to pay for a small reduction in tooth decay. The 60-year old gamble that ingested fluoride could protect the tooth enamel without damaging other tissues, has clearly been a bad one.”
The new study is an extension of an analysis first completed by Bassin as a Harvard PhD thesis in 2001. However, the thesis adviser, Dr. Chester Douglass, was charged in 2005 by the Environmental Working Group of withholding and misrepresenting these findings to the public and scientific community. These charges have been “under investigation” by Harvard for almost nine months, but no report has yet been given on the results of this investigation.
Douglass has recently praised Bassin’s work saying “She did a good job … it’s a nice analysis” in an interview with Fox TV News.
According to FAN science research director Chris Neurath, “Bassin’s approach of investigating the risk of osteosarcoma as a function of the year in which the child is exposed is a breakthrough in understanding how fluoride may cause bone cancer. Bassin points out that if studies which only look at lifetime fluoride exposure or accumulated bone fluoride levels are re-examined with her method, they too may reveal the same relationship.”
This week, the director of a major British cancer study center reported finding age-specific risk factors at play in many forms of teenage cancers, including osteosarcoma. Dr. Jillian Birch, head of the UK Pediatric and Familial Cancer Research Group, said that childhood growth spurts and hormone variations with age seem to trigger cancers that appear in the teenage years, thus corroborating Bassin’s research.
According to Connett: “The Bassin findings deal another serious blow to the US fluoridation program. This paper comes just two weeks after a major National Research Council report on fluoride in drinking water which also raised serious health questions about the dangers of fluoride exposure. We stand firmly behind the recent call by eleven EPA professional unions for an immediate halt to water fluoridation and a full Congressional investigation of this outdated and risky program.”