MEDICINE WEEKLY,

Eireann Publications, 25 Windsor Place, Dublin 2.

11th June, 2001.

Truth Decay eroding confidence in fluoridation.

In part two of his investigation, Rory Hafford examines what the Department of Health may be afraid to uncover in the fluoridation debate.

In the US, 1500 scientist, lawyers and other professionals from the Environmental Protection Agency have called for an end to water fluoridation. As far back as 1997, their union stated: "Our review of the body of evidence over the last eleven years, including animal and human epidemiology studies, indicate a causal link between fluoride/fluoridation and cancer, genetic damage, neurological impairment and bone pathology."

In Ireland, Dr. Patrick Flanagan of our own Environmental Protection Agency, said, "while neither the Agency nor I can remain other than neutral in the debate as to the pros and con s of fluoridation, it is clear to me that there is an existing and growing body of medical and/or scientific opinion supporting the cessation or prohibition of fluoridation."

Fifty per cent of the population living in fluoridated areas have the condition that Navan-based dentist Dr. Don Mac Auley sees now on a daily basis - dental fluorosis. An expert in the field, Dr. John Colquhoun has said: "Common sense should tell us if a poison circulating in a child's body can damage tooth-forming cells then other harm is likely."

"What shocks me", added Dr. Mac Auley, " is, in 35 years there have been no scientific studies in Ireland into the health effects of water fluoridation. Successive health ministers, including Mr. Martin, have failed to monitor public health."

In the U.S., a comparison between the ten largest fluoridated cities and the ten largest non-fluoridated cities showed that, while cancer rates had been similar initially, after 20 years the fluoridated cities had 10 percent more cancer deaths than the non-fluoridated ones. The U.S. National Cancer Institute checked these figures and confirmed their validity in 1976.

Following these results, Dr. Dean Burk, the Chief Chemist Emeritus of the U.S. National Cancer Institute, stated: "In point of fact, fluoride causes more human cancer death, and causes it faster, than any other chemical."

Health Minster, Micheal Martin, has set up a special Forum on Fluoridation, which is expected to furnish him a report at the end of October. Despite repeated efforts by Medicine Weekly to contact members of the Forum, no repsonse was forthcoming. The Chairman of the Forum has asked that members should refrain from making pronouncements on the subject of fluoridation until after the Forum's recommendations are presented to the Minister.

The Chairman has pointed out that any individual comments could compromise the Forum by appearing to pre-judge its conclusions.

Quizzed on the matter recently, Minister Martin said the group had its first meeting in September 2000 and have met every month since then. Included on the Forum are high profile scientists like Prof. Moira O Brien, Prof. Cecily Kelleher and Prof. William Binchy.

Dr. Mac Auley has asked for transcripts of the Forum meetings, but was told that none were available. The Department's Freedom of Information Officer, in a letter to Dr Mac Auley, who claimed he was refused transcripts of Forum meetings, said: "The Forum secretariat prepares minutes for circulation promptly after each meeting and does not retain working notes".

When contacted by Medicine Weekly, the Department of Heath said the minutes of the Forum meetings were posted on the official website: www.fluoridationforum.ie

On the issue of studies, Dr Mac Auley is convinced that the Department has been remiss. "Basically, I think the Department of Health wants to avoid doing the health studies because they are afraid of what they might find."

"The Government could be facing massive litigation on the dental fluorosis issue alone, never mind the other ailments that are now being attributed to fluoridation".

For years dentists passed off the damage (both pysical and emotional) caused by dental fluorosis as a by-product of antibiotics. Now, they are beginning to see another possible cause.

It costs between 5000 and 6000 per patient just to cover up the effects of dental fluorosis.

Many commentators feel the Department is in trouble on this issue, expressly because they are without adequate research.

In the Dail, some time back, Minister Martin said there was no chromium in the fluoride mix. Subsequently, he was proved wrong and was forced to tell the Dail that there was, in fact, chromium in the water. Chromium is a carcinogen.

The Government's reason for continuing to fluoridate our water is "better tooth quality". But there is now a huge body of evidence worldwide, to suggest otherwise. The most recent WHO figures show that tooth decay is decreasing almost as quickly in non-fluoridated countries as it is in fluoridated ones. In Europe, figures for 12 year olds place Ireland only in sixth place for tooth quality. Of the five countries with better teeth, four do not fluoridate and the U.K. has only 10% fluoridation. This is surprising that Ireland with 73% fluoridation coverage does not have the best teeth in Europe. Also surprising is the fact that 98% of Europe says no to water fluoridation.

The Minister of Health is now in the process of being sued by the Fluoride Free Water group. The findings of his Fluoride Forum need to made public as soon as possible, because a huge body of evidence against fluoridation has now been gathered - and it is only a matter of time before members of the public make their opinion known.

Please forward your views on this artilce to Rory Hafford

rhafford@eireannpublications.ie