Media Release – FANNZ

Wellington NZ, 8 August 2011

Fluoride-bone cancer denialist’s study fails

Five years after being promised to disprove the link between fluoride and

osteosarcoma bone cancer, the promised study has finally been published,

failing in its promise, as predicted by international fluoride experts. The study

only looked at bone-fluoride level at the time of osteosarcoma, which is

irrelevant to age-related exposure effect shown in the earlier research it was

supposed to disprove. It just shows total lifetime exposure to fluoride; not

whether it occurred during the critical 6-8 year old period, shown by the earlier


“Fluoridation promoters have been relying on this failed promise ever since

2006, to defend continued fluoridation in spite of the risk. What will they rely

on now?” asks Mary Byrne, National Coordinator of Fluoride Action Network.

“Why, spinning Douglass’ study as if it were valid of course. They have

already started – what else can they do? If they admit Douglass failed, they

must admit that fluoridation should end immediately” answers Ms Byrne.

Osteosarcoma kills between 3 and 4 NZ male youths each year. Legal action

against councils and fluoridation promoters began being prepared in the USA

as soon as Bassin’s 2001 study was discovered in 2006, having been

suppressed for four years. “Publication of Douglass’ failed study now opens

the doorway for such action” suggests Mark Atkin, FANNZ’ legal adviser.

“Now that Douglass’ study is finally published, it is clearly incapable of refuting

Bassin’s work” according to FAN director, Dr Paul Connett, Ph.D. “Bassin’s

study was a high quality product; Douglass’ study was not” he concludes.

“And it was only published in a dental journal, published by fluoridation

promoters The International Association of Dental Research – why not in

Cancer Causes and Control like his original promise, and Bassin’s study?

Would it not have passed objective peer-review?” adds Ms Byrne.

New Study Fails to Refute Fluoride-Osteosarcoma Link

Fluoride Action Network USA

NEW YORK, Aug. 2, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — A paper in the

Journal of Dental Research by dentist Chester Douglass and colleagues, “An

Assessment of Bone Fluoride and Osteosarcoma,” (7/28/11) claims to show

no association between fluoride bone levels and osteosarcoma, a form of

bone cancer. However, Douglass’ study has serious scientific flaws and is

incapable of disproving a previous study (Bassin et al., 2006) which linked

water fluoridation to osteosarcoma, reports the Fluoride Action Network


Bassin found a 500% to 600% increased risk for young boys, exposed to

fluoride in their 6th to 8th years, of later developing osteosarcoma. Douglass’

study does not address exposure during this critical period because it

measured the level of fluoride in bone, which accumulates fluoride over a

lifetime. These bone levels provide no information about when the person was

exposed to fluoride.

Not only does Douglass’ study fail to refute Bassin’s main finding, it suffers

from other serious weaknesses:

1) Douglass’ study was much smaller and weaker than Bassin’s. It had

only 20 control subjects under age 30, a fifth of Bassin’s. For this key age

group, Douglass’ study was so small it could provide no reliable conclusions.

Even Douglass admitted this serious limitation.

2) Douglass’ choice of comparison group is suspect. Douglass compared

the bone fluoride level of patients with osteosarcoma to “controls” with other

forms of bone cancer. If fluoride also causes these other bone cancer types,

then one would not expect to find any difference in bone fluoride between

these groups. It is biologically plausible that fluoride could cause other bone

cancers because it reaches such high concentrations in bone. One of the only

studies of fluoride and non-osteosarcoma bone cancers did find a link, but this

evidence was never mentioned by Douglass.

3) The controls were severely mismatched to the cases. Controls were

much older (median 41 yrs) than the cases (18 yrs). The risk of osteosarcoma

is highly age-dependent. Also, fluoride builds up in bone with age. Given

Douglass’ small sample size, it is unlikely he could have adequately

compensated for the gross mismatch in age, especially because of these two

simultaneous age dependencies. The groups were also mismatched on sex

ratio, and osteosarcoma risk is well known to be sex dependent. Properly

adjusting for sex and age would be virtually impossible.

In 2001, Douglass signed off on Elise Bassin’s Ph.D. dissertation which found

the strong association between fluoride and osteosarcoma. When it was later

published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal in 2006, Cancer Causes and

Control, an accompanying letter from Douglass claimed that his “larger” study

would eventually refute Bassin’s findings. But Douglass also told a Fox News

reporter that Bassin “… did a good job. She had a good group of people

advising her. And it’s a nice-it’s a nice analysis. There’s nothing wrong with

that analysis.”

Now that Douglass’ study is finally published, it is clearly incapable of refuting

Bassin’s work. According to FAN director, Paul Connett, Ph.D., “Bassin’s

study was a high quality product, Douglass’ study was not.”

Chris Neurath, FAN’s Research Director, points out “Even though Douglass

collected extensive fluoride exposure histories from hundreds of other

controls, that data was ignored in this paper. FAN is calling for the release of

all of the Douglass data. The only way to get to the bottom of Douglass’ two

decade’s study is to make the data available for any independent researcher

to check and do the analyses which Douglass has failed to provide. The

public has paid millions for this data, why is most of it still behind locked


One reason is suggested in Douglass’ conflict-of-interest declaration where he

says he has “… written reviews of the literature for several companies that

sell, reimburse for, or do research on preventive dentistry products, most

notably GlaxoSmithKline, Colgate-Palmolive, Dentsply, Quintile, Delta Dental


Omitted was his paid editorship of Colgate’s promotional dental newsletter,

which regularly contains advertisements for Colgate’s fluoride products.

The International Association of Dental Research (IADR), publishers of The

Journal of Dental Research, has a history of promoting fluoridation.

Connett says, “In my opinion, it seems that Douglass is more interested in

protecting fluoride than investigating this issue objectively. Bassin’s work

suggests fluoridation may be causing a frequently fatal cancer in teenage

boys. Douglass, after five years of trying, has failed to refute this disturbing

evidence. How long will fluoridation promoters be allowed to continue to spin

this issue?”

“Why are dentists – especially those who have shown a strong interest in

protecting the water fluoridation program – conducting and publishing cancer

research, anyway?” asks Connett.

A more detailed critique of Douglass’ paper will be posted soon at