Confessions of a Quackbuster

This blog deals with healthcare consumer protection, and is therefore about quackery, healthfraud, chiropractic, and other forms of so-Called "Alternative" Medicine (sCAM).

Friday, June 03, 2005

Experts condemn anti-fluoride claims

Experts condemn anti-fluoride claims
Tuesday, 24 May 2005

Australia's leading dental researcher Professor John Spencer from Adelaide University joins with other dental health authorities in dismissing recent claims by an American anti-fluoridationist that he says totally misinterprets Australian research into dental decay.

According to the Area Health Service's Oral Health Project Manager, John Irving, the claims against water fluoridation not only take statements out of context, but also make false claims.

"Anyone bothering to check the evidence would soon discover the statement by Paul Connett from the United States that Australian research by Armfield and Spencer (2004) showed no benefit from water fluoridation was absolutely wrong," he said.

Professor John Spencer, internationally recognised as this country's leading oral health researcher and who is head of the Australian Research Centre on Population Oral Health (ARCPOH) at Adelaide University is dismayed his research is being used this way.

"Dr Connett misrepresents the study as an analysis of the benefits of water fluoridation which it was not. He also misinterprets the study's indirect evidence on the benefits of water fluoridation on decay," Professor Spencer said .

"This is the sort of misrepresentation or misinterpretation that earned the condemnation of the Australian National Health and Medical Research Centre (NHMRC) in 1991.

"We remain active researchers on what affects child oral health and our work has repeatedly found support for the benefits of water fluoridation. We are not sideline critics. We remain engaged in learning about how best to invest in improved oral health for Australians."

Mr Irving said the statements by Dr Connett had been included in a media release sent around the US recently and were not supported by the organisation and individuals he quotes.

"The Centres for Disease Control (CDC), the US Surgeon General and the American Dental Association, all cited by Dr Connett, publicly and strongly support water fluoridation to safely, effectively and equitably reduce dental decay. Why? Because it works and without it there would be far more rotten teeth than there are at present and as a result more general health problems that flow from oral disease," Mr Irving said.

"What's more the CDC called water fluoridation one of the top 10 public health initiatives of the 20th Century."

The World Health Organisation's International Program on Chemical Safety includes a comprehensive volume on fluoridation (EHC 227) and examines possible links between water fluoridation and health problems and concludes there is none, after reviewing all the evidence.

"Fluoride is a micro-nutrient, it is part of us, and like iron or other similar elements, there is a dose that actually helps our health and an amount that doesn't. There is a significant difference between the two and in Australia the safety margin is high. Fluoridated water has only about 0.8 parts per million added to top up the existing level - it's a tiny but effective and safe amount," Mr Irving said.

"With more than 60 years of water fluoridation being safely used to reduce dental carries in adults and children, it is unreasonable to claim it is associated with health problems and to ignore the benefits. To falsely discount them amounts dental child abuse."