Fluoride science is tobacco science
DECEMBER 6, 2012
DECEMBER BULLETIN #6
For today’s bulletin we are going to update a bulletin that was written for us last year by Chris Neurath, FAN’s Science Director. The quote we have used for this bulletin Fluoride Science is Tobacco Science, comes from another Chris, Chris Bryson, author of The Fluoride Deception.
The full quote is:
Fluoride science is corporate science,
fluoride science is DDT science,
it's asbestos science,
it's tobacco science,
it's a racket!
Chris Bryson issued these words in the videotaped interview
I had with him in June 2004, shortly after his book was published.
Before we get to Chris Neurath’s personal account of how he got involved with the fluoridation issue, we first have an update on our annual fundraiser and before that a few sentences from a reader, who I believe explains why we and many of you continue to spend so much of your time and money to end this injustice. She writes:
Thank you for all that you do in this fight, particularly the fight against the poisoning of our children. Mine is one of the poisoned ones, but I know many others. You may not know it, but you do this for me...for my son, who hurts even with every shower. You do it even more so for all of the children whose parents don't yet know how much their kids are in pain from the poisoned water, because not only can they not talk, but they don't know that everyone doesn't hurt constantly like they do.
Yesterday we raised $1,001 from 13 people. That brings our current total up to $18,446 from 61 donors, en route to our two goals: $100,000 from 1,000 donors by midnight December 31.
Yesterday also brought us some very exciting news. Dr. Joe Mercola, who has helped us in so many ways, has offered to match dollar for dollar for the next $10,000 raised. That’s right – every dollar donated – at least for the next few days - will be DOUBLED. I should also remind our supporters that with Dr. Mercola’s leadership, FAN has joined an Alliance called the Health Liberty Alliance or just Health Liberty. Our partners include, Consumers for Dental Choice; Organic Consumers Association; Institute for Responsible Technology, and the National Vaccination Information Center. Together we are working to get the toxics out of our mouths, out of our water and out of our food and the right to determine what medicine we take into our bodies. I am very proud to be working along side Ronnie Cummins (founder and Director of the Organic Consumers Association), Jeffrey Smith (author of Seeds of Deception), Charlie Brown (Counsel for Consumers for Dental Choice, working for mercury free dentistry) and Barbara Lois Fisher and her husband Paul (National Vaccination Information Center) and of course, Dr. Mercola.
I was raised by my parents to believe fluoride and fluoridation were wonderful, progressive things. Before fluoridated toothpaste was available, and before our tap water was fluoridated, my father brought home bottles of fluoride drops from the pharmacy. My brothers and I were supposed to put it in orange juice every day. I remember wondering why we were given something from a bottle with a huge skull and crossbones on it. I don't remember my parent's explanations, but I'm sure I trusted them on this.
In hindsight, I'm glad I didn't like orange juice so I only occasionally took the fluoride. I had no cavities growing up, in contrast to the mouthfuls of both my parents, and I always attributed this to the fluoride drops. Our family dentist encouraged this belief. Little did I know that in my generation we all had fewer cavities than our parents, regardless of whether we ingested fluoride or not.
It wasn't until sometime in my 30s that I ever came across anyone who openly questioned fluoridation. He was a genial older man who suddenly became argumentative when the subject somehow arose and I claimed my lack of cavities was living proof that fluoride worked. I dismissed him as a crank. Not until years later did I realize I might have been the uninformed person.
When I first met Paul and Ellen Connett (in the 1980s) they were working on trash incinerators, not fluoride. I worked on this and several other environmental issues for many years with them. Paul and Ellen are both naturally talented at seeing through the lies and spin that poison so many environmental health issues. I was trained as a scientist, but it took me a while to realize how much science gets twisted when a vested interest is at stake. But even with my developing suspicion of manipulated science, I was stunned to read an investigative article on the dark history of fluoridation, first published by the Connetts in their tiny circulation environmental newsletter Waste Not. The Christian Science Monitor had so shortened the commissioned story by authors Chris Bryson and Joel Griffiths, that they looked elsewhere for a publisher. But no mainstream media would touch it, and eventually they gave it the Connetts to circulate so their effort would not be wasted.
The Bryson/Griffith article tied the early promotion of fluoridation to the development of the atomic bomb. One memorable personal incident from my youth was probably what kept me from dismissing this as an outrageous "conspiracy theory."
Back in high school, we got a reprieve from my chemistry class one day, to see a special presentation by a traveling "lecturer" from the Atomic Energy Commission, given to the entire school. He started out by tossing three whiffle balls into the audience, one of which chanced to go straight to me. He then asked the catchers of the balls to join him on stage. Once there, he announced that one of the balls was radioactive, whereupon the kid next to me dropped his like a hot potato. Being by nature more reserved, I just stood there waiting to find out what would happen next. The presenter singled me out to stay on stage as a "volunteer.” He then offered me a bottle of Coca-cola and asked me to drink some, after which he announced it had been spiked with radioactive iodine. He held his impressive looking Geiger counter at my neck, near my thyroid, and the clicking went crazy. This entire "stunt" was framed to demonstrate how harmless radiation really was. Although I was not at all happy with what went on, I came away, as did most of the kids in the audience, assuming that radiation really was something that could be "fun" to play with, and not that threatening.
That subliminal message stuck with me for years ... until I chanced to run into the brainiest kid from my high school, who was then studying physics at MIT. Somehow that presentation on atomic energy came up and he said he had been asked to help the presenter behind the scenes ... and he knew what had really gone on. The stunts with radioactivity were all faked. The presenter's Geiger counter had a tiny radioactive collar, which he could slip back and forth over the detector to make it click at will. There was no radioactive whiffle ball, and no radioactive Coke. I was stunned to realize our government lies - intentionally - to deceive school children. In particular, about the safety of radiation and atomic energy.
The almost unbelievable revelations in the Bryson/Griffith article finally got me to seriously question my previous faith in fluoridation. But I can understand why most Americans still believe what they were told time and again as children ... that fluoridation is wonderful and anyone who questions it is crazy. For several more years I was still wary of joining the Connetts’ campaign on fluoridation. But then I started delving into the science myself.
The first dip I took was when Paul asked me to review the seminal reports of the first fluoridation "community trials" in the US, from the 1940s. I couldn't believe the shoddiness of these studies. Promoters of fluoridation are keen to dismiss any findings of harm from fluoride and fluoridation as "junk science" but if you really want to see “junk science” in action read these early trials.
But I was still wary of getting involved in the issue. Then Paul asked me to look into some of the cancer studies. Having investigated other environmental causes of cancer I had a special interest in this field, so I accepted. The Yiamouyiannis/Burk work was intriguing, but not fully convincing to me. Then a member of the National Research Council (NRC) committee reviewing fluoride suggested I look at a much more recent case-control study on fluoride and bone cancer by Kitty Gelberg. I started wading through the 400-page dissertation as well as her published paper, and realized there were gross errors in both. For example, Gelberg had somehow confused the males with the females! She had never caught this error and neither had the peer reviewers or any readers. In several key tables, she confused cases with controls, which is an even more fundamental error than switching males with females. There were other errors and many questionable interpretations. Gelberg concluded there was no link between fluoride and osteosarcoma, but buried in her study I saw evidence that suggested otherwise. I called Gelberg to try to straighten out the errors and to ask about some of the interpretations. She claimed that it was the first she had ever heard about the possibility of errors in the 10 years since her work had been published. After grudgingly admitting the errors, she broke off any communication. My respect for "fluoridation science" dropped to a new low. Gelberg works as an epidemiologist for the New York State Department of Health, which happens to be one of the leading promoters of fluoridation in the US. It was a disappointing revelation that public servants can stonewall and ignore inquiries from the public.
About the same time as this Gelberg experience, in 2005, FAN was tipped off to the existence of Elise Bassin's Harvard doctoral dissertation on fluoride and osteosarcoma. This study had been completed four years previously but had been so effectively buried that it was unknown even to the expert NRC panel doing an exhaustive review of fluoride toxicology. Michael Connett went to Harvard to read the only "public" copy available anywhere, but was only allowed to photocopy a limited portion of it. His initial impression was this was a very important study. I made an appointment to see it myself. I was stunned by what I read. Bassin's high quality study had found a very strong link between fluoride exposure between ages 6-8, and later developing osteosarcoma. I was equally shocked by the fact that this work had been hidden from the public for four years while Bassin's faculty advisor, Chester Douglass, who ran the study, went around the world, saying his research had found no link between fluoride and osteosarcoma, even though he had signed Bassin’s thesis.
Reading the Bassin dissertation, deep in the bowels of Harvard's Medical Library, was the turning point for me on fluoride. Here was clear evidence that the fluoride added to 2/3rds of American's drinking water may be causing a frequently fatal form of cancer. This study isn't enough to "prove" fluoride causes cancer, but the fact that it had been hidden from the public and scientific community was proof for me that, in Chris Bryson's words: "fluoride science is tobacco science".
With pressure from FAN, and with the Environmental Working Group leading the demand for an investigation of the cover-up of the Bassin study, the study was eventually brought to the world's attention ... and has created a stir ever since. The NRC final report notes it as a crucial piece of evidence on the question of carcinogenicity. Later, in May 2006, Bassin formally published her work in a prestigious peer-reviewed scientific journal, with three respected Harvard co-authors.
But the opening salvo of the "tobacco science" attack on Bassin's work appeared on the same day her paper was published, in the same journal! Douglass wrote a "letter to the editor" where he questions the repeatability of Bassin's findings, and announces he is analyzing additional data sets from his study and believes they will not confirm her findings. Douglass says he will publish his results within months. His letter is full of omissions and misleading claims, but it was used for the next five years by proponents of fluoridation and government health agencies to dismiss Bassin's paper. In those five years, Douglass kept promising to publish his results for all to see, but never did ... until last year (Kim et al 2011). The publication of what Douglass suggests is the "last word" on fluoride and osteosarcoma, took him nearly 20 years! The study was originally scheduled to be completed in about 5 years.
And what does his "final word" paper actually contain? No evidence able to refute Bassin's study, because Douglass never even addresses the key evidence in Bassin's study (i.e. the critical period when children were exposed - their 6th to 8th years). Douglass' study was actually much smaller than Bassin's, especially in the age group of 0-20 years. Douglass' paper even states that he had insufficient number of subjects in this age range to derive any conclusions.
Douglass also ended up with a control group that was much older and had a much different sex ratio, than his case group. Such drastic differences mean his entire study is of questionable validity. He is essentially comparing apples to oranges.
Douglass claims his method of estimating fluoride exposure is superior to Bassin's. Douglass used bone fluoride levels, whereas Bassin used a careful history of drinking water and other fluoride sources. Douglass' method using bone fluoride is incapable of pinpointing when a child was exposed to fluoride, whereas Bassin's is the best available method for timing exposure. The timing of exposure turned out to a critical risk factor in Bassin's study. Douglass' study does not and can not even address this key factor.
Douglass ignored a large portion of his data from a control group of people who did not have any cancer. Instead, he looked only at a control comparison group comprised of people who had types of bone cancer other than osteosarcoma. Bassin's controls did not have any type of cancer. Since fluoride concentrates so highly in bone tissue, there is a plausible mechanism for it to increase the risk of any type of bone cancer, not just osteosarcoma. Virtually no fluoride studies have ever looked for risks in anything but osteosarcoma, so it is disingenuous for Douglass to imply that there is no evidence linking these other types of bone cancer to fluoride. If fluoride does cause these other types of bone cancer, then his bone cancer controls are a terrible choice and invalidate his findings.
Given these three potentially fatal weaknesses of Douglass' much-heralded study, the fluoridationist spin machine had to go into overdrive to claim his work refuted Bassin's.
Perhaps because of the vulnerability of Douglass' final word on fluoride-osteosarcoma, there has been a recent flurry of low quality ecological studies from fluoridating countries, all claiming to find no link between fluoride and osteosarcoma. Or perhaps these studies were done because Douglass was so many years late in producing his promised work, that fluoridating countries decided they needed something to try to counter Bassin. I have carefully reviewed each of these studies, from Ireland, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. They are all much weaker study designs than Bassin's case-control study. It is not surprising that these studies were unable to find a link.
Enter the Pew Charitable Trust
Paul Connett’s update to this story.
Now that the Pew Charitable Trust has been co-opted to help the campaign to increase the number of communities fluoridated in the U.S. we have seen this “respected” body use the same kind of “Tobacco Science” we have seen elsewhere. The “respectable” word for this is “spin” and we have seen Pew use spin to dismiss concerns about both the fluoride-osteosarcoma connection and the recent Harvard meta-analysis of 27 (of the now 35) studies that have found an association between fairly modest fluoride exposure and lowered IQ in children (Choi et al, 2012).
Pew on fluoride and osteosarcoma
In the context of what Chris has written above it is worth reading very closely the following account by Kathy Kincade, that appeared on a website (DrBicuspid.com) when the Douglass paper (Kim et al., 2011) was published. Note that there is no mention of Bassin’s study and particularly see the comments of Pew spokesperson Shelly Gehshan at the end of the story. Notice also that the Douglass study was not published in a cancer journal, or even a medical journal but a dental journal (Journal of Dental Research), which holds a strongly pro-fluoridation editorial position. Notice also the use of Helen Whelton, who is identified as vice president of the International Association for Dental Research (IADR), which publishes this journal. Both the IADR as well as Whelton (a researcher from the University of Cork in Island) herself are strong promoters of fluoridation. Indeed, the IADR, joined up with the WHO oral health people and the FDI (a dental trade lobby) at a symposium held in Geneva in 2006 and issued a proclamation that access to fluoride should be considered a basic human right!
Study finds no link between fluoride and osteosarcoma
Journal of Dental Research (July 28, 2011).
There has been ongoing controversy as to whether there is a link between bone fluoride levels and osteosarcoma. An inconclusive animal study conducted 20 years ago first raised the question of an association between fluoride and osteosarcoma. Since that time, other studies have examined the issue; however, this new study, using actual bone to measure fluoride levels in individuals with and without osteosarcoma, is considered by researchers to be the best science to date because a more accurate and reliable scientific method was used to measure exposure from all sources of fluoride, according to Raymond Gist, DDS, president of the ADA.
"This new study adds to an already strong base of scientific evidence that fluoride is safe and effective at preventing cavities," Dr. Gist stated in a press release.
A team of researchers from Harvard University, the Medical College of Georgia and the National Cancer Institute analyzed hundreds of bone samples from nine hospitals over an eight-year period from patients with osteosarcoma and a control group to measure fluoride levels in the bone. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) approved the design of the study, which was led by Chester Douglass, DMD, PhD, of Harvard University, and funding for the research was provided by the NCI, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.
The study sample included incident cases of primary osteosarcoma and a control group of patients with newly diagnosed malignant bone tumors. Study participants were identified by physicians in the orthopedic departments from nine hospitals across the U.S. between 1993 and 2000. Specimens of tumor-adjacent bone and iliac crest bone were analyzed for fluoride content.
The researchers used logistic regression of the incident cases of osteosarcoma (n = 137) and tumor controls (n = 51) -- adjusting for age, sex, and potential confounders of osteosarcoma -- was used to estimate odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals (CI).
They found no significant difference in bone fluoride levels between cases and controls. The odds ratio, adjusted for age, gender, and history of broken bones, was 1.33 (95% CI: 0.56-3.15).
“The controversy over whether there is an association between fluoride and risk for osteosarcoma has existed since an inconclusive animal study 20 years ago,” said Helen Whelton, vice president of the International Association for Dental Research, which publishes theJournal of Dental Research. “Numerous human descriptive and case-control studies have attempted to address the controversy, but this study of using actual bone fluoride concentrations as a direct indicator of fluoride exposure represents our best science to date and shows no association between fluoride in bone and osteosarcoma risk.”
Shelly Gehshan, director of the Pew Children’s Dental Campaign, agreed.
"I would say that this study can put peoples' fears to rest because it shows no correlation between fluoride and osteosarcoma," she told DrBicuspid.com. "In 2006, the National Research Council said that if fluoride might be linked to cancer, osteosarcoma would be the most plausible form of cancer. But now that's been ruled out. We can now say that fluoride does not cause any kind of cancer."
This was a very thorough and rigorous study done with three divisions of the National Institutes of Health, she added.
"Some people have asserted a link between fluoride and cancer, but prior to this there was not much of an evidence basis, and now we know for sure there isn't one," Gehshan said. "The Pew Children's dental campaign focuses on policy change when there is a sound research basis, and community water fluoridation has a sound research basis. It improves health immeasurably and saves money, and it has been clear that this is a sound thing to do for a long time."
Director of FAN and co-author of The Case Against Fluoride
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