On October 8, 2000, a man of true honor and integrity passed away. Dr. John Yiamouyiannis, (known to friends and activists as “Dr. Y”), worked tirelessly for many years to expose the poor science supporting fluoridation, and will, we believe, be remembered as one of those rare kind of scientists who has the courage and commitment to take scientific truth to political power.
“I will never forget how fearless he was,” said Dr. Robert Carton, a former scientist at the EPA. Carton recalled a presentation Yiamouyiannis gave,
“At a presentation at EPA (at the invitation of the union), he accused a researcher from the University of Rochester of fraud. One of the researcher’s students was in the audience (Bill Sette) and he jumped up outraged. John said: take the message back to your professor and have him sue me. John found how the guy had altered data from one paper to another and would have survived easily in court. Needless to say, he was never sued.”
It was almost thirty years ago, while working as the biochemical editor at Chemical Abstracts, that Dr. Y became aware of the health effects of ingested fluoride. From then on, he produced some of the most important work on fluoridation.
It was based on research provided by Dr. Yiamouyiannis and Dr. Dean Burk (former Chief Chemist at the National Cancer Institute), that Congress in 1977 mandated an animal study be done to determine if fluoride was carcinogenic.
“I met John on the very first day I became involved in this issue,” recalls Paul Connett, a chemistry professor at St. Lawrence University. “That was at a village council meeting here in Canton, NY. The fact that he spoke so eloquently and could back up everything he said with such voluminous references and detail combined with the fact that everything he said was ignored by our local dentists and one doctor in attendance, gave us some inkling of what we were up against.”
Pat Moreell, an active campaigner in Florida, said, “I’ve been in this fight for 35 years and John was always there. He was a very special person.”
An example of Yiamouyiannis’ tireless commitment was his study of the National Institute of Dental Research’s 1986-1987 survey of US Schoolchildren’s teeth. Believing that the claims of fluoridation’s effectiveness were greatly exaggerated, Yiamouyiannis was very eager to see the results of the NIDR’s survey which was, and still is, the largest modern survey of schoolchildren’s teeth in the US.
After being denied his request to look at the results of the NIDR’s survey, Yiamouyiannis used the Freedom of Information Act, whereupon he received the data in hard copy form. With the data in hard copy form, Yiamouyiannis had to type into a computer the individual DMFT (decayed, missing, and filled teeth) rates of 39, 207 different children. While such a task would have kept many from proceeding, Yiamouyiannis persisted and eventually compiled and sorted all the data, triple checking all entries. Upon doing so, Yiamouyiannis found that the DMFT rates of children living in fluoridated communities their whole lives differed little, if any, from the DMFT rates of children living their whole lives in unfluoridated communities. Such a finding brought into serious question the claims made by the dental community about the supposed benefits of fluoridation.
For this, and all of his many day in, day out efforts helping citizens’ groups throughout the country, we will miss Dr. John Yiamouyiannis, a man truly ahead of his time.