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
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
“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