Catalyst: The science is far from settled

GENRE:  Email letter

TO:  ABC Catalyst; Various email Bcc list

AUTHOR:  Sonja H

DATE SENT: August 3rd, 2013

TITLE: Catalyst: The science is far from settled

STATUS: Awaiting response

UPDATES:  Please post all updates and comments in the LEAVE A REPLY section below.



Dear Director/Producer of Catalyst

I hope I am wrong, but judging by the title of your upcoming program on fluoridation, Fluoridisation (sic) and how it protects your teeth, this will be yet another biased fluoridation push, with little or no real investigative research.  Though no doubt it is too late to change the content of your advertised program, I wish to draw your attention to the following.  Please refer to the links within the text below for details.

Health authorities in Australia, New Zealand, the USA and a few other countries endorse fluoridation in glowing terms, proclaiming the science is settled, and the benefits enormous.  Opponents are accused of misinterpreting the science, peddling pseudoscience, wearing tin foil hats or being conspiracy theorists.

Yet there is a growing number of scientists, dentists and other professionals with impeccable credentials calling for an end to fluoridation worldwide – due to health concerns, poor evidence of benefits, or ethical considerations.  This indicates that the science is far from settled.  So who do we believe?  The work of two highly qualified former proponents who ‘changed their minds’ is enlightening. 

The late Dr John Colquhoun, former Chief Dental Officer in Auckland, was employed to promote fluoridation throughout New Zealand.  After finding evidence that fluoridation was ineffective, he spoke out against it  and wrote, Why I changed my mind about water fluoridation.

Dr. Hardy Limeback, recently retired Professor and former Head of Preventive Dentistry at the University of Toronto, in 1999 issued a public apology to his faculty and students for having unintentionally misled them about fluoridation, and in 2000 issued the statement,  Why I am now officially opposed to adding fluoride to drinking water.  Dr Limeback has also stated that dental fluorosis caused by fluoridation is irreversible, disfiguring, psychologically damaging and costly to repair. In essence, it is medical assault on children.

Opponents of fluoridation point to many issues, including lowered thyroid function and an increased rate of hip fractures.   Blood levels during lifelong consumption can harm heart, bone and brain.   There are now 36 human studies linking fluoride exposure to lowering of IQ in children.  A 2012 Harvard University review of 27 studies (with fluoride concentrations at only modestly raised levels) found an average lowering of 7 IQ points.

As Dr Paul Connett has often explained, with water fluoridation you can control the concentration, but you cannot control the dose, as that depends on how much a person drinks.  This is poor medical practice.  Also people are exposed to fluoride from many sources besides water, and this exposure has increased significantly since fluoridation first began.  So how can anyone guarantee there is an adequate margin of safety, sufficient to protect everyone in the community, between the doses reported to cause adverse effects in the National Research Council 2006 review, and the doses that people are likely to receive from chronic ingestion of fluoridated water, together with fluoride from all other sources – including tea, foods processed with fluoridated water, dental products, pharmaceuticals, pesticides etc?

Very few countries fluoridate their water, and only four countries in Europe fluoridate salt (but with salt at least consumers have a choice) – yet WHO statistics show there is little difference in dental health between fluoridating and non-fluoridating countries.  In fact, several countries that do not fluoridate have better dental health than any countries that do.

Then there is the question of ethics.  Forget the semantics of whether or not the industrial ‘byproduct’ used in water fluoridation is or is not considered medication or a nutrient.  We each have the right to informed consent regarding the medications or nutritional supplements we ingest.  Water fluoridation strips us of that right.  Once fluoride is added to the water supply it is virtually impossible to escape, because even if we buy bottled water or install a reverse osmosis filtration system, we are still exposed through our food.

In light of all this, shouldn’t the precautionary principle apply regarding water fluoridation?  Remember, the science was supposedly settled on asbestos, leaded petrol and Vioxx, before it was shown that the science was wrong.

As a taxpayer funded organisation, the ABC has a responsibility to viewers to thoroughly research subjects such as fluoridation, and not just accept the endorsements of vested interest groups for program content.

Yours sincerely

Sonja H


One comment on “Catalyst: The science is far from settled

  1. There is no science to the commercial sodium fluoride added to water doing anything like protecting your teeth.
    But there are many studies showing otherwise.
    Why Catalyst do you not concentrate on facts and not fiction that has been promoted over the years?

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