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Suppression of science
(and common sense)

Fluoridation's political history is characterized by denial, obfuscation and diversion. In the series of stories found here, readers will learn who the major players are and why they'd like to keep you believing that fluoridation is a net positive. Many readers will find this information shocking; like any dark secret it requires a period of adjustment.

Fluoride Free Fairbanks Web Archive

Voices of opposition have been suppressed since early days of fluoridation
Excerpt: Hileman B, Chemical & Engineering News, 1988 August 1, 66, pp 26-42

Ever since the Public Health Service (PHS) endorsed fluoridation in 1950, detractors have charged that PHS and the medical and dental establishment, such as the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American Dental Association (ADA), have suppressed adverse scientific information about its effects. Some of those who generally support fluoridation make similar charges. For example, Zev Remba, the Washington Bureau editor of AGD Impact, the monthly publication of the Academy of General Dentistry, wrote last year that supporters of fluoridation have had an"unwillingness to release any information that would cast fluorides in a negative light," and that organized dentistry has lost "its objectivity - the ability to consider varying viewpoints together with scientific data to reach a sensible conclusion. "

The dozen or so scientists C&EN was able to contact who have done research suggesting negative effects from fluoridation agree on this aspect. They all say that fluoridation research is unusual in this respect. If the lifeblood of science is open debate of evidence, scientific journals are the veins and arteries of the body scientific. Yet journal editors often have refused for political reasons to publish information that raises questions about fluoridation. A letter from Bernard P. Tillis, editor of the New York State Dental Journal, written in February 1984 to Geoffrey E. Smith, a dental surgeon from Melbourne, Australia, says: "Your paper ... was read here with interest," but it is not appropriate for publication at this time because "the opposition to fluoridation has become virulent again." The paper poses the question: Are people ingesting increasing amounts of fluoride and can they do so with impunity?

Sohan L. Manocha, now a lawyer, and Harold Warner, professor emeritus of biomedical engineering at Emory University medical school in Atlanta, received a similar letter in 1974 from the editor of AMA's Archives of Environmental Health. The editor rejected a report Manocha and Warner submitted on enzyme changes in monkeys who were drinking fluoridated water because of reviewers' comments such as: "I would recommend that this paper not be accepted for publication at this time" because "this is a sensitive subject and any publication in this area is subject to interpretation by anti fluoridation groups."

These papers were subsequently published in prestigious British journals, Science Progress (Oxford) and Histochemical Journal. Many other authors have reported similar difficulties publishing original data that suggest adverse effects of fluoridated water. Most authoritative scientific overviews of fluoridation have omitted negative information about it, even when the oversight is pointed out. Phillips Grandjean, professor of environmental medicine at Odense University in Denmark, wrote to the Environmental Protection Agency in June 1985 about a World Health Organization study on fluorine and fluorides: "Information which could cast any doubt on the advantage of fluoride supplements was left out by the Task Group. Unless I had been present myself, I would have found it hard to believe."

In his 1973 Ph. D. thesis on the fluoridation controversy, Edward Groth, III, a Stanford biology graduate student at that time, concluded that the vast majority of reviews of the literature were designed to promote fluoridation, not to examine evidence objectively. Groth also noted a number of anti fluoridation reviews that were equally biased. According to Robert J. Carton, an environmental scientist at EPA, the scientific assessment of fluoride's health risks written by the agency in 1985 "omits 90% of the literature on mutagenicity, most of which suggests fluoride is a mutagen."

Several scientists in the U.S. and other countries who have done research or written reports questioning the benefits of fluoridation or suggesting possible health risks were discouraged by their employers from publishing their findings. After their paper had been rejected by the editor of Archives of Environmental Health, Manocha and Warner were told by the director of their department not to try to publish their findings in any other U.S. journal. NIDR had warned the director that the research results would harm the cause of fluoridation. Eventually, Manocha and Warner were granted permission to publish their work in a foreign journal.

In 1982, John A. Colquhoun, former principal dental officer in the Department of Health in Auckland, New Zealand, was told after writing a report that showed no benefit from fluoridation in New Zealand that the department refused him permission to publish it. In 1980, Brian Dementi, then toxicologist at the Virginia Department of Health, wrote a comprehensive report on "Fluoride and Drinking Water" that suggested possible health risks from fluoridation. This 36-page study has been purged from the department's library even though it is the only one the department has prepared on the subject. According to current employees, no copy exists anywhere in the department. Spokesmen say the report was thrown away because it was old but also say the department will be preparing another report on the subject soon.

An ADA white paper written in 1979 states: "Dentists' nonparticipation [in fluoridation promotion] is overt neglect of professional responsibility." An ADA spokesperson says this is still the association's official policy. In recent years, several dentists who have testified on the anti fluoridation side have been reprimanded by their state dental officers.

ADA and PHS also have actively discouraged research into the health risks of fluoridation by attacking the work or the character of the investigators. As part of their political campaign, they have over the years collected information on perceived anti fluoridation scientists, leaders, and organizations. Newspaper articles about them are stored in files, as are letters about them from various proponents of fluoridation. Little or no effort has been made to verify the accuracy of this information. It is used not only in efforts to counteract arguments of the antifluoridationists, but also to discredit the work and objectivity of U.S. scientists whose research suggests possible health risks from fluoridation.

One example is the false information about the late George L. Waldbott, founder and chief of allergy clinics in four Detroit hospitals, that ADA disseminated widely to discredit the validity of his research. Rather than deal scientifically with his work, ADA mounted a campaign of criticism based largely on a letter from a West German health officer, Heinrich Horning. The letter made a number of untrue statements, including an allegation that Waldbott obtained his information on patients' reactions to fluoride solely from the use of questionnaires. ADA published Hornung's letter in its journal in 1956 and distributed a news release based on the letter. ADA later published Waldbott's response to this letter. But the widely disseminated original news release was not altered or corrected, and continued to be published in many places. As late as 1985, it was still being quoted. Once political attacks effectively portrayed him as "anti fluoridation," Waldbott's work was largely ignored by physicians and scientists.

In November 1962 and 1965, ADA included in its journal long directories of information about anti-fluoridation scientists, organizations, leaders, and others known to be opposed to fluoridation. Listed in alphabetical order were reputable scientists, convicted felons, food faddists, scientific organizations, and the Ku Klux Klan. Information was given about each, including quotes from newspaper articles, some of which contained false data. The information was published for use by proponents of fluoridation in local fluoridation referenda.

John S. Small, information specialist at the National Institute of Dental Research, is quite willing to talk about the files he keeps on anti fluoridation organizations and their leaders. "Of course, we gather information," he says. "These people are running all over the country opposing fluoridation. We have to know what they are up to." Consumer advocate Ralph Nader has a different view of this activity. He calls it an "institutionalized witchhunt."

It is easy to understand why research on risks of fluoridation has never been more vigorously pursued. Most of the individuals and agencies involved have been promoting fluoridation publicly for nearly 40 years. Research that suggests possible harm threatens them with a loss of face. For example, PHS has historically been the principal source of funds for fluoride research; but ever since June 1950, PHS has been officially committed to and responsible for promoting fluoridation. Thus, the agency has a fundamental conflict of interest.

Colquhoun, now teaching the history of education at the University of Auckland, offers another explanation for what appears to be the suppression of research. He notes that the editorial policy of scientific journals has "generally been to not publish material which overtly opposes the fluoridation paradigm." Scientific journals employ a referee system of peer review. But when the overwhelming majority of experts in an area from which the referees are selected are committed to the shared paradigm of fluoridation, Colquhoun notes, the system lends itself to preservation and continuation of the traditional belief that fluoridation is safe and effective. This results in "single-minded promotion, but poor quality research, and an apparent inability to flexibly reassess in the presence of unexpected new data," he says."

Fluoride Free Fairbanks Web Archive

Is Science Censored?

Excerpted from Newsweek Sept. 1992 issue by Sharon Begley

Ideology may influence what studies get published. This is how science works? Despite its objective face, science is as shot through with ideology as any political campaign, and now that dirty secret is coming out. The party line is that papers submitted to journals are rejected only for reason s of substance-the methodology is suspect, the data don't support the conclusions, the journal has better papers to use. But lately scientists have been privately fuming over rejections they blame on censorship. And this summer, the issue exploded in public. Dr. One leading cancer journal, for instance, recently published an industry study concluding that the fluoride added to drinking water does not increase the risk of cancer in lab animals. That same journal rejected a government study, by researchers at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, that reported an increase in rare bone cancers among male rats fed fluoride. The journal explained that it does not publish lab-animal studies anymore. "No one wants to touch this," says toxicologist James Huff of NIEHS about the persistent evidence that fluoride poses some hazard. Chalmers hasn't made many friends at science journals by opening this debate, but some researchers applaud him. " He's made statements about something that is very, very disturbing," said toxicologist Ellen Silbergeld of the University of Maryland. "[Suppression of studies] is particularly vicious when they concern public-health issues." But the risk that censorship poses to public health may be the least of it. If science loses its reputation for probity, its conclusions will carry no more weight than any interest group's.

Fluoride Free Fairbanks Web Archive

Water activists challenge dental association

Bob Vrbanac, Chronicle Staff
Published on Jul 22, 2009

The president of the Ontario Dental Association is defending the use of fluoride in drinking water, despite repeated calls for source science by a Waterloo advocacy group.

Ontario Dental Association President Dr. Ira R. Kirshen has offered to provide the local anti-fluoridation group, WaterlooWatch, the science behind the association’s support of water fluoridation, its benefits and its cost-effectiveness. Kirshen said while the association doesn’t have the source science in hand, bodies like Health Canada do.

As recently as 2007, Health Canada reviewed the scientific literature and still came out in support of the benefits, safety and cost-effectiveness of water fluoridation in preventing cavities. “It just shouldn’t be a debate at this point in time,” said Kirshen, who took over the presidency of the association in June after eight years on the body’s board of directors.

“When you come out and read that the World Health Organization, Health Canada and the Centres for Disease Control in the States are in support — they also have hundreds of studies in support of the science not just one or two.” Robert Fleming of WaterlooWatch wants the association to provide a list of scientific studies, economic analysis and dental carries comparisons that supports those claims.

“The Ontario Dental Association touts the benefits and safety of drinking water fluoridated with hydrofluorosilicic acid, an industrial toxic waste, but yet have failed to produce any science,” said Fleming. “They want to say how cost-effective water fluoridation is, yet nobody is really tracking these costs at the municipal level.

“Since the newest president of the Ontario Dental Association, Dr. Kirshen, seems to believe they have the science, I ask they he please shows us the science.”

Fleming made a similar request to the City of Waterloo and Region of Waterloo in a Freedom of Information request filed in May. He asked them to produce any research they had that supports the practise so that it can be made public in time for a planned plebiscite on the issue being held during the 2010 municipal election. Fleming argues that after 40 years of fluoridation in Waterloo the information should be readily available.

“Where’s the source science which proves that swallowing water fluoridated with hydrofluorosilicic acid actually causes any reduction in dental carries?” said Fleming. “Opinions and endorsements are not science. If water fluoridation is to be decided by the people it seems odd that the people don’t have the science and the costs to fluoridate so that they can weigh it for themselves.”

Kirshen acknowledged that the optimal concentration of fluoride in the water has changed over time. The most recent change was in 2007, when Health Canada recommended a 0.6 ppm in fluoridate water. “There are advances in science,” said Kirshen.

“We we’re seeing some fluorosis, but it’s not a disease and is easily controlled. It’s not a risk compared to the benefit the people in the lowest socioeconomic levels receive from this.”

Kirshen said he’s only seen a couple of cases of dental fluorosis , which cause pitting and the discoloration of the teeth, in his 29-year career.

In fact, at his Richmond Hill practice, he’s noticed people who were drinking well water compared to fluoridated town often had more dental carries.

As for people concerned about safety of hydrofluorosilicic acid, Kirshen said he admitted he doesn’t have all the information about its history as an industrial byproduct. But he doesn’t like the scare tactics that are being used in describing it.

“The one thing that really gets to me is that they’ll trot out the fluoride that gets transported with the big skull and crossbones on it, and say ‘Look what poison you’re putting in our water,’ ” said Kirshen. “But get a bottle of chlorine that is supposed to be sanitizing and cleansing the water, and it has the same warning. “Nobody ever complains about chlorine in water, and for me scientifically it’s way more caustic.”

Kirsten said the association will continue its support and made a deputation at Thunder Bay council on the topic Monday night. He said while communities here are debating fluoridation, the number of communities in the U. S. that are fluoridated have gone up by 10 per cent in the last decade.


Fluoride Free Fairbanks Web Archive

Attack on a health officer

Thurdsay, June 11, 1970, by Smith G,
North Hill News (The North Hill News originated in the 1950's. It later became The Calgary Mirror, which was purchased by the Calgary Sun in the early 1990's)

An exhausted, harassed grey-haired man walked down the city hall staircase. "Life would be so much easier if I did not stand up for my principles." he told me following a shocking attack on him in the council chamber.

Dr. W.H. Hill, medical officer of health for the City of Calgary, was soon to retire, a broken man, and he did not have long to live He was a victim of persecution because of his brave stand over fluoridation advising caution against the fluoridation of the city water supply, Hill was abused by councillors, attacked by dentists and victimized by some of his medical colleagues. The fluoridation dispute was one of the most disgusting episodes in the civic history of Calgary during the fifties. The entire campaign was in the tone of the painful transition from smalltown politics.


At the outset Dr Hill was not opposed to fluoridation, I know, I broke the story. What happened was this: The campaign was getting into gear behind the scenes. The way it suddenly flooded North America was a triumph of propaganda and, like all large-scale publicity operations, it was backed by funds, large funds which were not raised from impoverished reporters. One year (1949?) the American Dental Association was resolving to launch a campaign to discourage the consumption of pop. Next year pop was forgotten as the mighty union jumped on the bandwagon for fluorides.

The campaign in Calgary was carefully planned as a brilliant operation. Calgary was considered a key city in Canada. It was compact with one municipal authority and one water supply controlled by that single authority. The population was young, the birth rate fantastic at 32 per 1000, young parents were crowding into the new suburbs The emphasis in the campaign was on the progressive young families.


Housewives were to be flattered as bright, young intelligent persons willing to back progress. Fluorine was the panacea for the modern generation.

At that point in time, a municipal authority could order fluoridation without referendum. Later the Alberta government imposed a referendum requirement.

The campaign was headed by a group of brash young dentists sweeping all before them. It was even rumoured that they had imported a man from Vancouver and, put him on city council -- an easy move under city-at-large elections given the right financial backing and support from the old Civic Government Association, succeeded after that became discredited by the United Citizens' Association. Both were much the same sort of pompous stuffed shirt brigade from downtown business.


The incumbent councillors were quickly influenced by the campaigners. The media daily newspapers, radio and the infant television were brainwashed in one of the easiest offensives in modern political history. Reporters were brought to heel. It was at that time before the campaign entered the public arena that I asked Dr Hill for his views. To me fluoridation was a mystery but it sounded like a Good Thing. The arguments were convincing for a layman.

Hill did not oppose it initially. He was subsequently driven into that situation. He merely said that, until fluoridation had been thoroughly tested and proven not only effective but 100% safe to all consumers, any responsible public health officer must advise caution. Authorities were divided on the issue, he said and until there was unqualified recommendation, he could not recommend it.


The campaigners were furious . Not simply because Hill had questioned their magic, but because I had anticipated their campaign. They wanted the campaign launched with favorable propaganda. One of the dentists cornered me in the office, inflated with arrogance because he had thought all reporters were disciplined. He told me that he played badminton with the publisher and that the publisher had personally ordered support in the newspaper.

The attack was intensified later, both inside and outside the newspaper office. I was even abused at public meetings. It was the start of a protracted and bitter persecution from members of city council.

Fluoridation was now in the open and it has since been dragged out into the arena periodically for the past 15 years. The public has grown bored with it.


At that time the campaigners were full of confidence. They turned up at a public hearing of Calgary city council and did a lot of talking. One young dentist dramatically drank a glass of fluoridated water. He seemed a bit unbalanced but otherwise OK. Although they had talked most councillors into support, there was one who refused to be browbeaten with science. That was James D. Macdonald lawyer, who tied the dentists up in a few knots when he wanted to know such things as how much research had they done into fluoridation and what was the optimum dosage.

You would not have read much of that in the Calgary press. My report was censored.

Hill was given the roughest mauling of all. He was a convenient target, a shy reserved man who did his job without playing politics and without cultivating the big noises who ran the city. The wolves cornered him, abused him and confused him. One alderman of this city proclaimed in a public speech that "Dr Hill is practising quackery in the 20th century." After the meeting I found three young dentists shouting at Dr Hill in the hall. He told me later that one had threatened to "knock your block off."


That was typical of the campaign. Opponents were more than reactionary, they were "betraying the children of this fair city." As the campaign proceeded, the daily newspapers became more strident The opposition could obtain no platform anywhere. The public became suspicious and although the plebiscite required a 66% majority, it was defeated in a straight vote. The Herald wrote a eulogy on the dentist who had organized the campaign and pointed out that it was the poor people who had most to gain, who had rejected fluoridation. Since then we've had further plebiscites all defeated but the campaigns were conducted on a somewhat higher level.


Fluoride Free Fairbanks Web Archive

Are Proponents of Water Fluoridation Suppressing Scientific Evidence and Debate?

by Dr Mark Diesendorf


Fluoridation involves increasing the generally low natural levels of fluoride in drinking
water, by a factor of 5 to 10, to about 1 part per million (ppm), in order to try and reduce
tooth decay in children’s teeth. Before 1950, fluoride was generally considered to be a toxic
environmental pollutant, and fluoride levels of 1 ppm or more were considered to be
sufficient reason for rejection of a water supply in the USA. Dental and skeletal fluorosis
(both discussed below) were already known to be among the ill-effects of ingestion and
inhalation of fluoride.

Fluoridation was first introduced as a public health measure in the USA in the 1950s, after
cross-sectional studies of naturally fluoridated regions of that country suggested that levels of
tooth decay declined as the fluoride concentration in drinking water increased. An intense
lobbying campaign was organised by a group of dentists and dental officials. Several
‘controlled fluoridation trials’ were conducted in the USA and Canada and, even before they
were complete, the US Public Health Service reversed its previous cautious stance and
endorsed fluoridation. Then, in Australia, the National Health & Medical Research Council,
Australian Dental Association and Australian Medical Association all endorsed fluoridation
in the 1950s, despite considerable opposition from doctors in the letters columns of the
Medical Journal of Australia. At that time there was almost no knowledge of the mechanisms
of action of fluoride in the human body. The promoters of fluoridation, rewriting existing
scientific knowledge, claimed that there were no adverse effects, apart from a slight increase
in the prevalence of dental fluorosis (fluoride-induced mottling of teeth).

In 1960, a book published by Dr Philip R.N. Sutton, a dental researcher at the University of
Melbourne, showed that the early North American fluoridation trials were riddled with
fundamental errors of experimental design and were therefore unreliable. More recently, Dr
John Colquhoun, former head of the New Zealand Fluoridation Promotion Committee, called
into question the early research of naturally fluoridated communities of the USA, by showing
that the key published paper derived its results by selecting a few communities from
hundreds actually studied. However, by then fluoridation had become institutionalized in
several countries, including Australia and New Zealand.

Nowadays the majority of people consume artificially fluoridated water in only six countries:
USA, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Columbia and Singapore. The vast majority of
countries have discontinued or never implemented fluoridation.

My original interest in this controversial issue arose 25 years ago when I was secretary of the
Society for Social Responsibility in Science in Canberra. Since then, from time to time, I’ve
published papers on the subject in scholarly journals such as Nature and Australia & New
Zealand Journal of Public Health (1). Recently I had the opportunity to attend the
international conference on fluoride research, held in Dunedin, New Zealand in January
2003, and to review the issues.

Health hazards of fluoridation

One manifestation of fluoride toxicity is the high prevalence of dental fluorosis. This is not
simply a cosmetic effect, as apologists for water fluoridation like to say. In the more severe
forms, dental fluorosis involves damage to tooth enamel and tooth function. In artificially
fluoridated regions, dental fluorosis is now much more prevalent and severe than the initial
proponents of fluoridation predicted. The University of York’s Fluoridation Review (2)
estimates that up to 48% of children in fluoridated areas have some form of dental fluorosis.
To reduce this to the original target of 10% of the population with so-called ‘mild’ dental
fluorosis, we would have to terminate fluoridation.

When people drink fluoridated water, about half the fluoride is stored in the bones and the
rest is mostly excreted through the kidneys (provided the kidneys are working properly).
There is a large and growing body of research on a fluoride-induced bone disease called
skeletal fluorosis. This disease is observed on x-rays as increased bone density, structural
damage to bones, and calcification of joints and ligaments. In severe cases, some patients
cannot straighten their arms or even walk upright.

Most people assume that these severe manifestations of skeletal fluorosis occur at much
higher fluoride levels than the 1 ppm that is in fluoridated Australian and New Zealand water
supplies and that our health authorities have ensured that there is a very large safety margin
for artificial fluoridation. To the contrary, clinically significant cases of skeletal fluorosis
have been reported in at least 9 papers from 5 countries when natural fluoride concentrations
are below 4 ppm and are mostly below 2.5 ppm (3). A few cases are even reported in India
and China at fluoride concentrations slightly below 1 ppm. Incidentally, in India and China
naturally occurring fluoride is regarded as a chronic poison and the main issue is how to
remove it from drinking water as effectively and cheaply as possible.

Unfortunately, there are no well-designed studies to detect skeletal fluorosis in artificially
fluoridated regions of western countries. American and Australian medical doctors are taught
that the disease does not exist below 4 ppm and very few would be able to recognise it.
However, Indian researchers describe skeletal fluorosis in its mild form, even before it is
visible on x-rays, as involving pain and stiffness in bones and joints -- symptoms which are
similar to those of arthritis. A report by Access Economics for the Arthritis Foundation of
Australia found that 3.1 million (16.5%) Australians had arthritis in June 2000, up from
14.7% in 1995. Concern about the massive increase in arthritis in the USA is reflected in the
cover story of Time Magazine of 16 December 2002 being devoted to it. Arthritis is a multi-
factorial disease. Is it possible that part of this big increase is actually the early stages of
skeletal fluorosis?

The question of safety margins has been addressed in more detail by Dr William Hirzy of the
union of the scientists at the US Environmental Protection Agency. Dr Hirzy points out that,
on the basis of toxicology, safety levels should be set to protect those members of the
community who are at greatest risk. This goal means that environmental chemicals generally
have a safety margin of at least 100 times the exposure level. This allows for both the wide
range of individual sensitivities to the chemical and the wide range of individual exposures.

But, in the USA, the unsafe level for fluoride in drinking water has been set at only 4 times
the average level of artificially fluoridated drinking water, on the basis that it should avoid
anyone getting crippling skeletal fluorosis. This was done by ignoring the body of contrary
scientific data from naturally fluoridated regions of developing countries and the USA itself.

The notion that there is an adequate safety margin can also be refuted by simply considering
the wide range of variation of water intakes among people. Groups with high water intake
include athletes, outdoor workers, people with diabetes insipidus, and infants who are bottle-
fed with milk formula reconstituted with fluoridated water. Incidentally, these infants receive
100 times the daily fluoride dose of breast-fed babies and at least 4-6 times that
recommended by medical authorities for fluoride supplementation in unfluoridated areas (5).

In practice, the top fluoride consumers in places with 1 ppm of fluoride in drinking water
ingest about the same amount of fluoride daily as the average fluoride consumers in places
with 4 ppm.

As we age, the amount of fluoride stored in our bones steadily increases. Dr Paul Connett,
Professor of Chemistry at St Lawrence University in the USA, argues that it is this
cumulative dose that is the significant dose in determining whether people develop skeletal
fluorosis and hip fractures in old age. Several years ago, people with another bone disease,
osteoporosis, were treated with high doses of fluoride for just a few years. As a result they
developed a high prevalence of hip fractures and these results are widely accepted (6).
According to a simple calculation, these people received a similar cumulative dose of fluoride
to that which will be ingested by those drinking fluoridated water at 1 ppm for a lifetime.

On comparing hip fracture rates between fluoridated and unfluoridated communities around
the world, there have now been 19 studies, and 11 of them show a higher rate of hip fractures
in fluoridated communities (7). In particular, a recent epidemiological study, which examined
the aged in six naturally fluoridated Chinese villages, hip fracture rates doubled at 1.5 ppm,
and tripled at 4.3 ppm, when compared to the fracture rates at 1 ppm fluoride (8). This
finding again suggests a very small (if any) safety margin for such a serious outcome. In
Mexico, a linear correlation between the severity of dental fluorosis and the incidence of
bone fractures in children has been observed (9).

Biological effects of fluoride

Some worrying results have also been published on the biological effects of fluorides, based
on laboratory and animal experiments. It is well known to biochemists that, contrary to one of
the profluoridation myths, fluoride is highly active biologically, forming a strong hydrogen
bond with the groups found in proteins and nucleic acids (10). In vitro experiments
demonstrate that fluoride inhibits enzymes, and induces chromosome aberrations (11) and
genetic mutations (12).

Professor Anna Strunecka of Charles University in the Czech Republic has shown in
laboratory experiments that fluoride in the presence of aluminum disrupts G-proteins (13). G-
proteins take part in a wide variety of biological signaling systems, helping to control almost
all important life processes. Furthermore, pharmacologists estimate that up to 60% of all
medicines used today exert their effects through a G-protein signaling pathway. Professor
Strunecka suggests that aluminium fluoride (AlFx) complexes might induce alterations in
homeostasis, metabolism, growth and differentiation in living organisms. Thus, the
malfunctioning of G-proteins could be a causal factor in many human diseases, including
Alzheimer’s disease, asthma, memory disturbance, migraine and mental disorders.

Animal experiments reveal that fluoride increases the uptake of aluminum into the brain at 1
ppm in the drinking water (14). Dr NJ Chinoy from Gujarat University, India, has found that
higher doses of fluoride cause reproductive problems (15). Dr Z. Machoy, from the
Pomeranian Academy of Medicine, Poland, points out that AlF3 activates several guanine
nucleotides, mimicking the actions of some neurotransmitters and hormones. His group has
performed computer modeling of how AlF3 attacks the biologically important GDP
nucleotide (16).

Research on aged human cadavres by Dr Jennifer Luke at University of Surrey has shown
that fluoride concentrates in the pineal gland (17). Furthermore, in animal studies, she
showed that this concentration is associated with the earlier onset of puberty. As a
mechanism she makes the hypothesis that the increased fluoride concentration leads to the
reduced production of melatonin (because fluoride is known to inhibit the enzymes needed to
produce it) and that this in turn leads to an accelerated sexual maturation. This work dovetails
with studies which have shown that girls in the US – one of the world's most heavily
fluoridated countries – are reaching puberty earlier and earlier.

Proponents refuse scientific debate

No matter how much evidence of fluoridation hazards is put forward, the standard response
by proponents of fluoridation is to chant that fluoride is safe and effective, and that any
scientific questioning of fluoridation could undermine what they describe as “one of the top
10 public health measures”. As a matter of policy, pro-fluoridation officials and professionals
refuse invitations to participate in conferences, scientific seminars and public debates where
an anti-fluoridation case is presented.

On 6 May 2003 the US Environmental Protection Authority sponsored a scientific debate on
fluoridation in Washington DC. The ‘anti’ case was presented by Professor Paul Connett
(mentioned above). But, despite sending invitations to many prominent pro-fluoridation
doctors and dentists, the EPA could find no-one willing to present the pro-fluoridation case at
the ‘debate’. In Australia and New Zealand, pro-fluoridation authorities have also refused to
debate Professor Connett and other scientific opponents of fluoridation. This suggests that
proponents are maintaining fluoridation by political power and influence, rather than by
open, rational, scientific argument and evidence.

Alleged benefits of fluoridation

When it is safe from contradiction in public, the Australian Dental Association still repeats
the ancient, discredited claim that fluoridation reduces tooth decay by “up to 50%”. However,
a major cross-sectional survey of 84 cities in the USA by JA Brunelle and JP Carlos at the
National Institute of Dental Research found that children aged 5 to 17, who had lived their
whole lives in fluoridated cities, had on average only 0.6 fewer decayed, missing and filled
tooth surfaces (DMFS) per child than those in unfluoridated cities (18). In Australia a survey
by pro-fluoridationist Professor John Spencer from University of Adelaide (1996) found an
average reduction of only 0.12 to 0.3 DMFS per child (19). Since the total number of
permanent tooth surfaces in a child's mouth is 128, the US and Australian reductions are less
than one half and one quarter of one percent of tooth surfaces, respectively.

To make matters worse, this negligible benefit is not obtained from ingesting fluoride. Many
dental researchers (such as Dr Hardy Limeback from University of Toronto and Professor
Brian Burt from University of Michigan) and the pro-fluoridation US Center for Disease
Control, now accept that the mechanisms are predominantly ‘topical’, that is, acting directly
on the surface of teeth (20). People are being misled into drinking a medication that does not
need to be swallowed. Brushing with fluoride toothpaste, which contains up to 1,000 times
the fluoride concentration of fluoridated water, is sufficient.

Role of vested interests

Several fluoride researchers have published accounts of attempts by dental, medical and
public health authorities to intimidate them and to suppress their work (21). I had personal
experience of this, but fortunately am less vulnerable, since I am not a dentist or a medical
doctor and so do not require a licence to practise.

Pro-fluoridation dentists consider their support for fluoridation as their contribution to public
health. Only a few, like the late Dr John Colquhoun, former head of the New Zealand
Fluoridation Promotion Committee, have the knowledge and courage to admit publicly that
they were wrong.

It is my personal opinion that, behind the dental and medical associations, who promote
fluoridation with religious fervour, are powerful corporate interests:

1. the sugary food industry (e.g. sugar, soft drinks, processed breakfast cereals and sweets)
that benefits from the notion that there is a Magic Bullet that stops tooth decay, whatever
junk food our children eat;
2. the phosphate fertilizer industry that sells its waste silicofluoride to be put in drinking
water instead of paying for its safe disposal; and
3. the aluminium industry, which had an image problem with the atmospheric fluoride
pollution it produces, and funded some of the early research in naturally fluoridated
regions of the USA that appeared to show that fluoride was good for teeth.

Some governments support fluoridation because they consider it to be a cheaper way of
addressing tooth decay than running effective dental services for school-children and older
people, and politically safer than tackling the promotion of sugary foods that are the main
cause of tooth decay.


This review of fluoride research reveals a situation where people in fluoridated communities
are required to ingest a harmful and ineffective medication with uncontrolled dose. The
medication actually doesn’t need to be swallowed, since it acts directly on tooth surfaces. The
benefit of fluoridation is at best a reduction in tooth decay in only a fraction of one tooth
surface per child. Pro-fluoridation authorities ignore and suppress the above scientific results,
that do not support the official line, and refuse to participate in scientific debate. It appears
that fluoridation is an issue where the scientific method and principles are being set aside by
public health authorities. I must stress that I do not consider the promotion of fluoridation to
be a conspiracy. Rather, I see it as a result of a conjunction of professional, corporate and
political interests.

Further reading

The pro-fluoridation position is articulated at the web page of the American Dental
Association www.ada.org. The anti-fluoridation position is further elaborated at
www.fluoridealert.org and a comprehensive and annotated bibliography can be found at


1. e.g. Diesendorf M 1986, ‘The mystery of declining tooth decay’, Nature 322: 125-129;
Diesendorf M, Colquhoun J, Spittle BJ, Everingham DN, Clutterbuck FW 1997, New evidence on
fluoridation. Australian & New Zealand J. Public Health 21:187-190; Diesendorf M 1995, ‘How
science can illuminate ethical debates: a case study on water fluoridation’, Fluoride 28(2): 87-
2. McDonagh M, et al. 2000, A Systematic Review of Public Water Fluoridation. ("The
York Review"), NHS Center for Reviews and Dissemination, University of York,
3. e.g. Singh A, Jolly SS & Bansal BC, 1961, Skeletal fluorosis and its neurological complications,
Lancet 1:197-2000; Jolly SS, Prasad S, Sharma R & Chander R, 1973, Endemic fluorosis in
Punjab. I. skeletal aspect, Fluoride 6:4-18; Siddiqui AH, 1970, Neurological complications of
skeletal fluorosis with special reference to lesions in the cervical region, Fluoride 3:91-96.
4. Diesendorf M, 1990, The health hazards of fluoridation: a re-examination, International Clinical
Nutrition Review 10(2):304-321.
5. Diesendorf M & Diesendorf A 1997, Suppression by medical journals of a warning about
overdosing formula-fed infants with fluoride, Accountability in Research 5:225-237.
6. Riggs BL, et al., 1990, Effect of fluoride treatment on the fracture rates in postmenopausal
women with osteoporosis, New England Journal of Medicine 322:802-809.
7. See references listed in http://www.SLweb.org/fluoride-bone.html
8. Li Y, et al. 2001, Effect of long-term exposure to fluoride in drinking water on risks of bone
fractures. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research 16(5):932-9.
9. Alarcon-Herrera MT, et al. 2001, Well water fluoride, dental fluorosis, bone fractures in the
Guadiana Valley of Mexico. Fluoride 34(2): 139-149.
10. Emsley J, et al. 1981, An unexpectedly strong hydrogen bond: Ab initio calculations and
spectroscopic studies of amide-fluoride systems. Journal of the American Chemical Society 103:
11. Suzuki N, Tsutsui T. 1989, [Dependence of lethality and incidence of chromosome aberrations
induced by treatment of synchronized human diploid fibroblasts with sodium fluoride on different
periods of the cell cycle]. [Article in Japanese] Shigaku. 77(2):436-47.
12. Caspary WJ, et al. 1987, Mutagenic activity of fluorides in mouse lymphoma cells. Mutation
Research 187(3):165-80.
13. Strunecka A & Patocka J, 1999, Pharmacological and toxicological effects of aluminofluoride
complexes, Fluoride 32:230-242.
14. Varner JA, et al. 1998, Chronic administration of aluminum-fluoride and sodium-fluoride to rats
in drinking water: Alterations in neuronal and cerebrovascular integrity, Brain Research 784:
15. Chinoy, NJ, Narayana MV 1994, In vitro fluoride toxicity in human spermatozoa. Reproductive
Toxicology 8(2):155-9.
16. Machoy Z 2002, Interactions between guanosine diphosphate (GDP) and aluminum fluoride
(AlF3) (conference abstract), Fluoride 35:244-5.
17. Luke J 2001, Fluoride deposition in the aged human pineal gland, Caries Research 35:125-128.
18. Brunelle, JA & Carlos JP, 1990, Recent trends in dental caries in U.S. children and the effect of
water fluoridation, Journal of Dental Research 69 (special edition): 723-727.
19. Spencer AJ, Slade GD & Davies M, 1996, Water fluoridation in Australia, Community Dental
Health 13, Supplement 2, 27-37.
20. Centre for Disease Control 2001, Recommendations for Using Fluoride to Prevent and Control
Dental Caries in the United States, Mortality and Morbidity Weekly Review 50(RR14):1-42.
Centre for Disease Control 1999, Achievements in Public Health, 1900-1999: Fluoridation of
Drinking Water to Prevent Dental Caries. Mortality and Morbidity Weekly Review 48(41): 933-
21. For an early account, see Waldbott G 1965, A Struggle with Titans, New York: Carlton Press.