Government selectively uses unreliable evidence to promote water fluoridation – senior UK doctors state

British Medical Journal, October 5, 2007

In the British Medical Journal, Sir Iain Chalmers, editor of the James Lind Library (set up to help people understand the evidence base of medicine), KK Cheng, professor of epidemiology at Birmingham University, and Dr Trevor Sheldon, professor and pro-vice-chancellor at York University (and Chair of the York Review Board), accuse the government of “one-sided handling of the evidence”. They add that “the Department of Health’s objectivity is questionable”, pointing out that until 2006 it funded the widely reviled British Fluoridation Society, set up in 1969 to politically push for fluoridation.

It should be noted that the NZ Ministry of Health conducts no independent research on fluoridation, and bases its position on that of other pro-fluoridation governments such as the British Government. In fact it sends representatives to meet with such governments to ensure consistent quoting of “supporting” science, and consistent spin in denying opposing science.

In 1999, the Department of Health commissioned a systematic review of the evidence by York University. “The reviewers were surprised by the poor quality of the evidence and the uncertainty surrounding the beneficial and adverse effects,” they write.

But the Department of Health used the York findings “selectively”, they advise, “to give an over-optimistic assessment of the evidence in favour of fluoridation.” The Department commissioned research on the effects of water in which fluoride naturally occurred, but on only 20 people. This, together with the selective use of the York review, formed the basis of the government’s safety claims, they say. Even the studies attempting to show benefits to teeth were few and inconsistent. The rate of dental caries caused by tooth decay has dropped substantially both in countries which have added fluoride and those which have not.

Studies on the side-effects of fluoride in water were low-quality and it is hard to estimate how many people would suffer mottled teeth, and not possible to reach conclusions on other alleged harm, such as bladder cancer and bone fracture, they say. “There is no such thing as absolute certainty on safety,” they write.

It is important to note that the York Board was instructed only to examine epidemiological (population) studies. The US National Research Council’s 3 year Review, published in 2006, examined laboratory studies also, and established risks from fluoridation to a range of population sub-groups (comprising at least 40% of the population in NZ).

In 2007 The Lancet the oldest and highly respected independent medical journal, described fluoride as “an emerging neurotoxin” along with the rocket fuel, perchlorate.